The leading association
of public opinion and
survey research professionals
American Association for Public Opinion Research

Thanksgiving …

by Nora Cate Schaeffer, President
When I teach students about professional organizations and why they should care about them, I explain that AAPOR is a center of the science in our field through the annual conference and the journals. I describe how AAPOR serves us as practitioners by giving us a forum in which to deliberate about our aspirations – expressed in the codes of ethics and conduct, standards of practice, the Transparency Initiative, and more – and to monitor the environment in which we work.
But another critical function of AAPOR is its remarkable capacity to harness the energy and commitment of its members as volunteers. We see this capacity at work on the website and AAPORnet in the announcements about the progress of conference -- as Conference Chair Mandy Sha and dozens of volunteers on the Conference Committee, conference support, abstract reviewers and more have worked their way through the thousand and one steps that go into making conference. And there are more steps than usual this year, when we celebrate AAPOR’s anniversary.
But the activation of volunteers to address a shared problem is critical in other efforts. Two recent examples showcase different sectors of AAPOR’s membership.
A task force of sixteen members, including chair Kristen Olson and co-chair Jolene Smyth, produced the comprehensive report “Transitions from Telephone Surveys to Self-Administered and Mixed-Mode Surveys.” The report combines the expertise of researchers with the practitioner’s eye for practical problems that need solutions, and it is available to all on the AAPOR website. It was produced by volunteers.
Similarly, “An Evaluation of 2016 Election Polls in the U.S.” resulted from the collaboration of thirteen members plus supporting researchers, under the leadership of Courtney Kennedy. President-elect Dan Merkle has put together a similarly substantial task force for the 2020 elections, in place and ready to work as the primaries begin. It will be chaired by Josh Clinton and includes 18 experts in election polling and survey research methodology.
The results of two more massive volunteer efforts will come before members in the spring – revisions to the Bylaws and to the Code of Ethics. These committees, chaired by Mary Losch and Cliff Zukin and by Stephanie Eckman respectively, are reviewing and updating important parts of AAPOR’s infrastructure. If you have a favorite bylaw or portion of the code that you would like to comment on, these committees are hard at work at making them even better. All these committee members are volunteers.
Although it may sound facile to say that AAPOR’s greatest strength is its members, the evidence that this is true is seen in every benefit we get from “AAPOR.” AAPOR motivates many busy, talented colleagues to say “yes” to working extra hours for all of us. Even though I have just highlighted a few individuals contributions to make this point, there are too many volunteers, and too many contributions to do them all justice. AAPOR is us.
And a brief note: We recently said goodbye to Adam Thocher our long-standing Executive Director. As we wish Adam good luck in his next adventures, we also welcome our new Executive Director Delia Murphy, who will be bringing her great energy and enthusiasm to Atlanta in May, where she looks forward to meeting you.