Conference and Council Report

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WAPOR just held its 71st Annual Conference in Marrakesh and, as usual, had its Council and Members meeting.

Below are some highlights from the conference, a report from our Council and members’ meetings, and a preview of the WAPOR 2019 meeting. The Marrakesh conference was held in a very interesting setting with very good food and a great location. A total of 192 registrants from 45 countries attended the conference. There were 32 students presenting, and 13 of them were not first attendees.

At this conference, we decided to introduce a day of training with four different courses. We also introduced a poster session, a feature that we had not had since the Hong Kong Conference, and we made it easier to organize panels. All these initiatives were much appreciated. We also increased travel grants for students. Council members got many very positive comments regarding the quality, variety and interest of the presentations. The sessions were generally very well attended, including the plenary panel on public opinion in the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region. Those who attended the conference will be able to give their evaluation of the conference in a post-conference survey soon. We take this occasion to thank the local organizers, Mohamed Tirari and Aomar Ibourk for all they have done to organize the conference and make sure that everything was working well.

In addition to 13 travel awards to students, the following awards were given at the Conference:

The Naomi Turner Prize for Best Conference Paper Presented by a Student was attributed to Rosa Seitz and Fabio Votta for the paper “Deliberation Across the World: A Cross-National Examination of the Link Between Deliberation and Regime Legitimacy”.

The Elizabeth Nelson Prize for Best Paper from a Society in Transition was attributed to Anna Efimova and Denis Strebkov for the paper “Linking Public Opinion and Foreign Policy in Russia”.

The Robert Worcester Prize for the best article published in IJPOR in 2017 was attributed to Brian E. Weeks, Alberto Ardèvol-Abreu and Homero Gil de Zúñiga for the paper “Online Influence? Social Media Use, Opinion Leadership, and Political Persuasion”. The article is free to read on IJPOR’s web site.

The Janet A. Harkness joint AAPOR-WAPOR award for comparative and multicultural studies was attributed to Marta Kołczyńska for the paper “From Cross-national ex post Survey Harmonization to Substantive Analyses: A Roadmap and Empirical Illustration”.

Finally, the Helen Dinerman Award that recognizes lifetime contributions to the field of public opinion was attributed to Michael Traugott, for his lifetime achievement in Public Opinion Research.

At the Council meeting, we decided to go on offering training, at least for the next conference, in May 2019 in Toronto. The Council also decided to go on offering the possibility to present posters next year.

We also decided to increase travel grants for students and introduce new travel grants for scholars coming from Tier B/C countries. The conference committee is already activating itself to prepare the Toronto Annual conference, with Tatiana Karabchuk, our new Conference Chair, and Doug Miller as the local chair. They promise to propose other innovations to attract even more people to the Conference and make the conference even more relevant to the public opinion research community in all parts of the world. The theme of the Conference will be “Public Opinion and Democracy.” The conference will take place following the AAPOR conference so that the Sunday morning sessions (May 19th ) will be joint sessions with AAPOR under that theme.

You will receive soon a survey of members, including a specific section for those who attended the conference. We will be very happy to hear your comments on all matters of interest to WAPOR.

WAPOR’s finances are in very good shape. Consequently, we plan to dedicate more money to helping attendance at the conference and to any special project that could help reach out to the public opinion research community in all parts of the world. We also decided to work on a strategy to increase donations to different funds in order to help increase the awards and attendance at the conference.

WAPOR chapters are organizing themselves. WAPOR Asia just had its first conference in Taipei on May 24-27, 2018. It plans for a second conference in New Delhi, India, in September 2019 and for a third one in Malaysia in September 2020. WAPOR Latino America will hold its 8th conference in Colonia, Uruguay, on October 17-18, 2018. In addition, WAPOR WANA  was launched at the Marrakesh conference and will be ready to elect its executive Council soon. We also plan to help organize WAPOR chapters in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Eastern Europe and we are working on strengthening our relationships with several International Survey projects.

We have been very active in terms of Standards since the last conference. First, WAPOR presented its position at the House of Lords committee on political polling in the UK. Second, together with ESOMAR, we conducted an update of the survey on the Right to Publish Public Opinion Polls. We reached representatives from 133 countries which means that this survey will be the most exhaustive to date. The report was presented at the conference and it will be published very soon. We also set up a committee to review the polls of the Chile November 2017 presidential election. The preliminary report was presented at the conference and the final report will be published soon. Finally, we have set up an ad hoc joint committee with AAPOR to examine the methodology of comparative surveys.

At the members meeting, we presented a report of the Council’s activities. As you can see, the Council is very active and puts all its efforts and energy in making WAPOR even more relevant and present in all parts of the world so that it will become the reference in the international community of public opinion research.

Claire Durand, for the Council