Letter from WAPOR President (November 2020)

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Marita Carballo, WAPOR President

Dear WAPOR Colleagues,

As we come near the end of this very difficult and challenging year, I can say I feel very proud about how WAPOR and all our community have responded to the new circumstances. We have to regret some very sad news: the passing of Janet Streicher, who was serving as Chair of the Professional Standards Committee. She will be deeply missed for her warmth and kindness, as well as for her contribution to research, and I’m certain that through our work we will continue to honor her legacy.

The main reason for this letter is to share some news regarding our last Council Meeting, held in the past week. It was a very productive meeting where we analyzed the year and, in all, it has been a good year for WAPOR. We have benefited from the participation in this meeting of our two newly elected members of the Council, Robert Chung -as Vice President/President-Elect- and David Jodice -Chair of the Professional Standards Committee-, who we took the opportunity to welcome into the team. With their involvement, we started to outline plans for the coming year, a task that can be somewhat difficult in these uncertain times.

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, we can affirm that we continued our hard work and held two very good conferences. In October, WAPOR’s 73rd Annual Conference and WAPOR LATAM 9th Congress were held together virtually with the theme Public Opinion and Survey Research in Changing Times. There were 262 participants: 172 attended WAPOR and 58 attended exclusively WAPOR LATAM, while 32 people participated in both conferences. This was our first experience in an entirely virtual conference, and the experience turned out well with a lot of work put into it. There will be much learning to be drawn from this experience.

Also earlier this month, the WAPOR ASIA Conference was held online and it was a very successful event with many participants. The broad theme of the conference was Public Opinion: Present Reflection and Beyond 2020 . We congratulate the organizers for the quality of the Conference.

The traditional members survey and the post-conference WAPOR/WAPOR LATAM survey was launched a few days ago.  They will be valuable sources of information to continue improving our work as an organization. We can benefit from all the comments and suggestions that attendees for the different events will be making, so please do share your views if you attended.

There were very noteworthy submissions for the awards this year. The Helen Dinerman Award for career contributions to innovative research and methodology was granted to Mitchell Seligson, of the Vanderbilt University. Ana Cardenal, Carol Galais and Silvia Majô-Vazquez were the recipients of the Robert M. Worcester Prize: for the best paper published in IJPOR. The 2020 WAPOR/AAPOR Janet A. Harkness Student Paper Award was won by Stella Sechopoulos for her paper Tolerance of Domestic Violence against Women in Latin America: A Culture of Violence Driving a Culture of Acceptance. The Elizabeth H. Nelson Prize for the best conference paper from a society in transition was awarded to Mălina Voicu and Ioana Ramia, for their paper on The Foundation of European identity: civic versus cultural principles. And the Naomi. C. Turner Prize for the best paper presented by a student wen to Rico Neumann, for the paper Identities that divide, identities that unite: The effect of media portrayals of intergroup encounters involving Muslims on orientations toward Muslims. Also earlier this year we decided on a new award, the Tocqueville Award on Democracy, which will start next year and will be organized by Claire Durand, Tim Johnson and myself.

The last couple of years we held a strong initiative –led by Tim Johnson- in recruiting National Representatives.  Among their responsibilities, National Representatives monitor and keep WAPOR informed regarding events in their nation that are relevant to the conduct of public opinion and survey research. They also serve as local WAPOR representatives and survey experts who are available to discuss polling issues in their country, provide brief annual reports to WAPOR regarding the general status of public opinion and survey research in their nations, and periodically contribute information to WAPOR’s newsletter regarding important developments. I am very happy to say that 50 distinguished members have been appointed for the two-year term as National Representatives. In recent meetings, many of them manifested their interest in renewing their term –which can only be done once- for another two years.

This year we also kept very active through our social media resources, as a way to continue strengthening relationships and communication between our members and with the world. Regarding bonds within our own network, WAPORnet has continued to prove its value as a very helpful tool for communication between members. We encourage you to continue sharing your news, questions, and discussion through this channel, to make the most of the collective knowledge of our community.

There was also a lot of work being done from in our Regional Chapters. WAPOR ASIA and WAPOR LATAM held their conferences this year, and in WAPOR LATAM elections were held recently, resulting in Gustavo Meixueiro Nájera taking on as President and Fabián Echegaray as Vice-President. In WANA, the Committee is working with Chapter members to organize their first elections of officers, and a first Conference in the Emirates in 2021. The Liaison Committee is also planning activities for the next year, focused on more joint webinars, creating WAPOR-sponsored panels at other conferences, inviting and hosting panels by others at WAPOR 2021, launching a communication campaign to encourage membership and exploring other formats of cooperation for WAPOR.

Regarding Education and Training, we managed to organize a good number of free access webinars this year: six webinars on different topics were dictated through our online education platform and they continue to be available for free on our website, and four workshops at the WAPOR and WAPOR LATAM Conferences. The latest webinar organized by the Liaison Committee was hosted on November 20th: a joint webinar of WAPOR and the Global Barometer Survey research program (umbrella organization for Latino Barometro, Asian Barometer, Arab Barometer, Afro Barometer, Eurasia Barometer).  

Since the development and publication of public opinion research on COVID-19, WAPOR has started compiling a list of public opinion reports from around the world that have been posted on the listserv. The resource presently gathers results from 85 surveys from important organizations and research institutes in 75 countries (including multi-country surveys) and its being frequently updated. If you have not consulted this resource, I strongly recommend you visit the resource library: https://wapor.org/resources/covid-19-public-opinion-research/.

IJPOR has also had a good couple of years. After its first year as a totally online journal, IJPOR’s 2019 Impact Factor increased to 1.779, placing it 39 out of 92 journals indexed in the Communication category and 66/180 in the Political Science category. This year, its institutional subscriptions are also growing: there are currently 2,389 in total (compared to 2,318 in 2019), and the Journal is proving to be more active than ever, publishing more Open Access papers. Their latest issue (Summer 2020) holds five articles and 12 research notes, covering topics such as opinions about estimation of future public opinion, economic news and its effect on trust in the EU, mirror experiments in survey research, and various articles about politics.

We are continuing to be active and working hard for our goals as an organization and to stay connected with members and the research community. Our Council will meet once more in December, and we will be sharing some more updates after that.

Please take care and keep safe. We will continue to keep you updated on our activities as organization, as a way to remain closer.

Marita Carballo
WAPOR President