Letter from WAPOR President (March 2020)

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Marita Carballo, WAPOR President

Dear WAPOR Colleagues,

Things have changed rapidly since my last letter, end of last year. We are living in difficult times and the appearance of the Coronavirus has changed our lives dramatically. This global pandemic has serious consequences. We are daily being informed of increased infections and mortality, more limits to our social life and its huge economic impact. In times of uncertainty we need to be together and solidarity is the best answer. Firstly, we must be informed on how to protect our health and those of others (WHO and local governments are good sources) and we also need to continue our work as academics and/or pollsters taking care of our families, co-workers and people participating in our research  (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019).

The COVID-19 virus has caused changes in our daily lives and in the way we do research until it is controlled, limiting personal interactions and face-to-face activities and going to phone and online research, virtual meetings and working from home. At WAPOR we are working hard to continue with our planned strategy and to meet our goals mostly now on building a stronger community between our members to support you and interchange between us to better address these needs.

In February we had a two day Council meeting in Chicago in which we analyzed the status update of strategic plans covering different issues: education and training, national representatives, regional chapters, publications and our Journal IJPOR, communications, finances, elections and awards, our code of ethics , liaison with other associations and our next annual conference in October.

As for the good news we are happy to let you know that we have 49 very active national representatives from different regions of the world. Tim Johnson, WAPOR Vice President, and myself are working together, having frequent communication and interchange with them, getting a better understanding and insight of what is going on in the countries and their needs. At our next WAPOR conference in October we will have immediately after our traditional business meeting for all members a special meeting with our national representatives. Hope to see you all attending and sharing experiences!

On Webinars we are planning on three in the coming months and six at the conference. As for now you can now see a special very interesting interview Pippa Norris gave to Michael Traugott, WAPOR Chair Education Committee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0bcXvo7wkw). Don’t miss it!

The newly elected Liaison Committee Chair Kseniya Kizilova has developed a good plan and set of actions focusing on strengthening the ties with the national communities of researchers worldwide, increasing cooperation with the stakeholders and partners in the field of public opinion research, including cross-national survey research projects and major public opinion research companies, think tanks, NGOs, international organizations, professional associations, universities, and media. She will work closely with the Regional Chapters and facilitate creation of new ones in the next two years.

Regarding awards and elections, WAPOR pursues two main goals: to formalize the process of nomination and the mandates of the different committees and to increase diversity within each committee, including the awards committees and the electoral committee. Claire Durand, in her role of Past President, took responsibility for this and we now have formalized procedures and more diversity.

Also, we decided on a new award, the Tocqueville Award on Democracy, that will start next year and will be set up by the current “presidential team”, that is Marita Carballo, Claire Durand and Tim Johnson.

On communications, specifically the second half of the year (and 2020) our social media presence grew. On our Facebook page, our following to date increased upwards 26% and on Twitter grew by 20% since April 2019. Speaking of our website, we are in the process of launching a refresh on the look and layout of wapor.org. We aimed to make it visually appealing and timely in terms of all the information we provide to our community and those who might be interested in joining. WAPOR’s digital footprint has expanded and aims to be active, but most of all we want to have conversations with you members and the entire public opinion research and practitioner community. Hopefully you’ll join our social media communities and become part of these conversations.

I invite you also to use our WAPORnet. It is the listserv of WAPOR that connects professionals and colleagues in the field. Here members pose questions, post items that others on the listserv might find useful, and inform others about things happening in the field of public opinion research. Posting to WAPORnet is simple. Send an email to wapor@unl.edu and your email will be sent to the entire listserv. To reply to a message, you can “reply” to the sender. Alternatively if you feel that your response would be of benefit to the entire list, simply choose, “reply all.” We encourage you to use the listserv in order to connect with other members about topics that are important to you.

Our annual Conference is something we all are looking forward to and WAPOR is still aiming to hold our regular face-to-face annual conference in October 6-8 in Salamanca, but due to the global pandemic and circumstances the Executive Council is preparing two other options for the conference:

    1. There will be an option of online participation for those presenters who are unable to travel.
    2. In the worst scenario, the entirety of the conference will be done online, but WAPOR would do its best to run the conference at the planned and scheduled dates to keep public opinion research moving forward.

This year is very promising in terms of the number high quality papers and interesting panels. We received 496 total submissions for the joint WAPOR conference and WAPOR LATAM congress. We received 14 panel proposals and 341 individual submissions. The number of submitted papers are almost twice higher than last year. The process of the review is almost complete. We managed to assign three independent external reviewers for each submitted abstract and very soon we will announce the results. 

Some of the Conference highlights are: Key Speaker: Prof. Noam Lupu (Vanderbilt University, Associate Director de LAPOP) will speak on “How Violence Shapes Public Opinion for Generations.”

WAPOR has also prepared six training workshops to be held during the conference (four in English and two in Spanish):

1. Survey Reporting by Alejandro Moreno
2. Web surveys by Yashwant Deshmukh
3. Survey Sampling by Mari Harris
4. Cross-national survey methodology by André Peralha
5. Métodos experimentales e investigación en Opinión Pública por Luis Miller
6. Analisis de datos e informes de encuestas por Alejandro Moreno

The WAPOR organizing committee, led by Tatiana Karabchuk, is also working on the key panel session to provide the breakthrough discussion on the current challenges for public opinion research which will be a nice surprise to the participants. Moreover, there will be organized special panels on survey research in the pandemic situation and on the role of mass media during COVID-19 spread.

Dear WAPOR colleagues please take care and stay safe. Let’s be together even if we need to be physically apart.

A big thank you to all of you for joining WAPOR in this journey in difficult times and to the Council Members, National and Chapter Representatives for their dedication and achievements. A special mention to Mariano Torcal, WAPOR LATAM President, for his outstanding work in the organization of Conference.

A huge virtual hug to you all,



Marita Carballo
WAPOR President