Letter from WAPOR President (April 2021)

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Timothy P. Johnson, WAPOR President

Dear WAPOR Colleagues,

Sending you greetings from Chicago, along with our quarterly report to keep you appraised of WAPOR activities. This is my first report to you as President and I wanted to say what an honor it is to represent our Association and to continue the important work already in progress. I have learned much from the previous WAPOR Presidents whom I have been privileged to serve with, including Alejandro Moreno, Patricia Moy, Claire Durand and Marita Carballo, and look forward to continuing their efforts and also to contributing new ideas to further WAPOR’s mission. There is, of course, much that needs to be done now as we hopefully begin to slowly emerge from the COVID19 pandemic. But first, some updates.

During a recent meeting of WAPOR’s Council, Secretary/Treasurer Henning Silber reported WAPOR’s finances to be healthy and in good order. This is certainly good news to share. During the same Council meeting, though, Membership Chair Tamás Bodor reported that WAPOR experienced a drop in membership renewals during 2020, almost certainly a consequence of COVID19 restrictions. The Council is focused on this and is pursuing several strategies to address it. We will be reporting on these throughout the upcoming year.  

Of immediate interest also, WAPOR Conference Chair Tatiana Karabchuk has announced the call for papers for this year’s annual meeting, which will again be held in a virtual format. The conference is set for November 2-6, 2021, and this year’s theme is Speaking Truth to Power: Public Opinion in a Time of Crisis. The submission deadline for the conference is May 24 and three presentation formats are available: research papers, posters, and preorganized panels. WAPOR has invested in a new electronic submission system that we hope will make the process flow more smoothly for everyone. In addition, much was learned from the virtual conference format employed in 2020 and other improvements are also planned for this year’s program. WAPOR’s Council is hopeful that in 2022 we will be able to return to our traditional in-person conference format, with tentative plans for that meeting to be held in Seoul, South Korea, in the Autumn of next year.

WAPOR continues to expand its National Representatives program. Thanks to the work of Liaison Chair Kseniya Kizilova, I’m pleased to report that WAPOR now has 62 National Representatives as of March 31 of this year. You can find the complete list of our National Representatives here: https://wapor.org/about-wapor/leadership/. There are of course many countries still not represented, and we invite WAPOR members to consider volunteering if their country does not yet have a National Representative.

Expanding opportunities for bringing together public opinion researchers everywhere continues to be an important long term WAPOR goal. With several highly successful WAPOR regional chapters now organized and pursuing their own priorities, initial discussions with interested parties are underway regarding the possibility of organizing a new chapter in Sub-Saharan Africa. These efforts are also being coordinated by Liaison Chair Kseniya Kizilova. Any WAPOR members interested in joining this effort should reach out to Kseniya.

Our Professional Standards Committee, led by Chair David Jodice, is currently working on two important projects. One of these is a review and revision to WAPOR’s Code of Ethics, which were last updated in 2011. Certainly, much has changed both in terms of available research methodologies and public perceptions (at least in some countries) of the legitimacy of public opinion research. We are optimistic that the revised Code will help keep WAPOR’s standards updated in terms of each of these challenges and provide members with the best possible ethical guidance.

David is also leading a team that will collaborate with our ESOMAR colleagues in conducting the 2022 update to the Freedom to Conduct Opinion Polls worldwide report. The goal is to expand both the coverage and topics to be addressed in this update, which will enable us to continue monitoring international trends affecting public opinion research. You can find the most recent report, from 2017, here. Please contact David directly if you have ideas or suggestions for improving this upcoming study.

Publications Chair Jibum Kim reports that a search committee is currently working to identify a new editorial team for WAPOR’s International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Our current editors, Paul Brewer and Michael Xenos, have done an outstanding job maintaining IJPOR’s high standards for excellence and we look forward to the announcement of a new editorial team in the near future.

WAPOR is also working to expand its offering of free webinars to the research community. Already this year, we have sponsored a webinar by Don Dillman (Washington State University), who spoke about Adapting Push-to-Web Survey Designs for Use in Different Countries and Situations, and another concerned with Electoral Polls in Difficult Times, which was presented by WAPOR Vice-President Robert Chung, Jill Darling (US), Alejandro Moreno (Mexico) and Paul Nnanwobu (Nigeria). As with each of our webinars, the recordings from these events are available to you here.

Our next webinar will take place on April 9, focusing on Public Opinion Perceptions of Social, Economic, and Political Challenges in Latin America. This event will feature four distinguished speakers, including Urpi Torrado (Peru), Noam Lupu (Vanderbilt University), Marta Lagos (Chile) and Alejandro Moreno (Mexico). There is still time to register for this webinar, and you can do so here. We are greatly indebted to the leadership of Claire Durand, Kseniya Kizilova and Michael Traugott in organizing these events and look forward to announcements regarding future webinars.

Clearly, much is happening, and we will continue to keep you informed regarding WAPOR plans and activities.

As Winter is now turning to Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, wishing you all hope, warmth and renewal.

Timothy P. Johnson
WAPOR President