Letter from WAPOR President (July 2020)

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Marita Carballo, WAPOR President

Dear WAPOR Colleagues,

At WAPOR we are working hard to continue with our planned strategy and to meet our goals. We are closing the first half of a very peculiar year, facing many challenges, and I want to thank and congratulate WAPOR Members, Regional and National Representatives, the Council and staff for your efforts, creativity and participation that have made our network continue to stay very active. There are many things happening these days and it is important that we stay in touch and together.

The time for our Annual Conference is getting closer, and as you know this is a key event where our community of academics and researchers can gather and learn about the latest polling trends, techniques and approaches. As announced before, WAPOR’s 73rd Annual Conference and WAPOR LATAM 9th Congress will be held, in virtual mode, on October 6-10, 2020. The program is being organized, and promises to be interesting, informative, and interactive. “Public Opinion and Survey Research in Changing Times” is the conference theme and reflects the different circumstances in which we are holding the conference this year. However, we think that the innovative ideas that we are planning to implement will provide an engaging and educational experience for everyone. We are trying to benefit from this online conference experience by using the advantages of the virtual mode. We will provide even more activities for the participants, including: opportunities for viewing all presentations of the papers in advance and up to 90 days after the conference; meeting for live online discussions on the papers; engaging in the enjoyable interactions within coffee breaks; discussing the hot issues within online forums and during our business meeting; enjoying the live presentations within the pre-organized featured panels and more. We will keep everyone informed as the program takes shape and we are looking forward to seeing everyone (virtually) in October.

Training and interchange between our members and the outside community are strong objectives of our plan at WAPOR and on this line we have increased our efforts by organizing free access webinars as part of our educational initiative. During the first half of the year we held different webinars sharing insights, learnings and changes experienced in our activity due to COVID-19. The latest one, held on July 9th, was about Mixed Mode and Mixed Device Surveys: Why, When, and How with Edith de Leeuw and Anne Elevelt as presenters and Claire Durand as moderator. The videos and slides for all of our webinars are available on our website for all who were not able to participate or want to view again!

At the moment we are working on a new webinar about Advances in Comparative Survey Methods that will take place at 9am EST on Tuesday September 15th, with our Vice President Tim Johnson as moderator and four presenters: Tom Smith (The Total Survey Error Paradigm), Anna Andreenkova (How to choose interview language in different countries) Ting Yan (Examining translation and respondents use of response scales in 3MC surveys) and Irina Tomescu-Dubrow (Harmonization, Data Documentation, and Dissemination). You will be receiving the invitation with the zoom link to participate in the coming weeks.

Our commitment to keep members updated during the worldwide pandemic is also expressed in the work we are doing compiling and sharing a list of public opinion research on COVID-19 from around the world. This valuable archive is a resource that you can find on our website and share with others. One of the latest interesting finding about research on this subject is a nationally representative longitudinal study to understand Americans’ beliefs, mental health, and outlook before, during and after the coronavirus outbreak. It is being conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and you can find more about it here.

Remember that you can directly communicate with members on matters related to our work, share what is happening in your country and the results of your research through WAPORnet. We encourage our members to continue to use WAPORnet as a forum for relevant and interesting discussions.

To continue building knowledge around this challenging context we recently decided together with Tamás Bodor, our Chair of the Membership Committee, to develop a survey for WAPOR members about the impact of the pandemic on their professional lives. Stay alert because you will receive it by email and we are counting on your input. This survey will provide essential information about our activities under the current situation and will be a helpful tool to understand expectations, future changes in our professions and guide WAPOR actions and the results will be made available publicly through a report.

On another subject, I would like to remind you that WAPOR seeks nominations for two offices to be filled in elections to be held this autumn. The positions are: Vice President/President-Elect and Chair of the Professional Standards Committee. Nominations of WAPOR members, including self-nominations, are due to Renae Reis by August 21, 2020. All nominations should mention the name of the nominee, qualifications, the position of interest and should be accompanied by a web link or document about the nominee. Only nominations from WAPOR members are eligible for consideration. You can find more information about the electoral process in our website. If you are not yet a member for 2020, you can log in here to join or renew.

We are also seeking nominations for the 2020 WAPOR Helen Dinerman Award. This award, given since 1981, honors particularly significant contributions to survey research methodology. We encourage you to submit your nomination letters by July 31, 2020. The winner will be announced at the virtual Conference in October 2020.

For an interesting reading, we are glad to inform you that the latest issue of our International Journal of Public Opinion Research (IJPOR) is now online with free access for current WAPOR members. There are twelve articles covering topics such as opinions on democratic responsiveness, ideology, populism, economic news and trust in the EU, mirror experiments in survey research and various articles about politics. It is as usual, a source of informed analysis and comment for both professionals and academics. 

We are living in difficult times facing many challenges and uncertainties and public opinion is a critical force in shaping and transforming society. At WAPOR, we face a huge mission to make the voice of the people heard all over the world. Our surveys are fundamental. We must be the leaders of high professional standards and ethical practices in the field; we must promote the right to conduct polls and to publish scientific research in every country in the world, and we should improve international cooperation and exchange between academics, pollsters, journalists and political actors.

We at the Council hope that all of our planned activities will help us to stay close and in touch, so we encourage you to participate actively and make the best of all the webinars, enjoy the Journal, interchange through WAPORnet and our social networks, and join the virtual Salamanca Conference next October where WAPOR continues its contribution to excellence in public opinion research.

Please take care and keep safe. A big hug to ALL of you,

Marita Carballo
WAPOR President