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Data Collection, Measurement, and Public Opinion During a Pandemic

AAPOR is introducing a mini-conference related to the theme of Data Collection, Measurement, and Public Opinion During a Pandemic During each time slot, at least two dedicated live sessions (if virtual) or conference rooms (if in person or hybrid) will contain papers or panels submitted as part of the mini-conference. The goal of the mini-conference is to serve as a platform and a forum to bring together experts to collectively understand how the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has affected research practices, data collection, elections, federal statistics, and public opinion.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended data collection and public opinion research in unprecedented ways. As the world has been facing challenges to public health and safety due to the growing pandemic, many survey organizations, federal statistical agencies, and public opinion researchers have had to immediately pivot to a “new normal” of data collection. Measurement challenges for a new and growing public health problem were exacerbated by uncertain or potentially inaccurate administrative records documenting the pandemic, in addition to different rules for testing and diagnosis across states and localities within states, complicating our reliance on these administrative records. Public opinion and individual behaviors about the pandemic and toward leaders have changed at lightning speeds. Extended stay-at-home orders, subsequent economic crises, and other feelings of discontent, fueled by acts of violence by police and other government actors, exacerbated unforeseen consequences of protest and violence, including violence against journalists, and renewed calls for activism. All of this took place during the precursor months to the 2020 Presidential Election and while the 2020 Decennial Census was being collected. The goal of this theme is to explore what we as survey researchers and public opinion professionals learned and experienced during the pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. changes to data collection procedures, including changes to surveys already in the field or planning for surveys going into the field;
  2. empirical analyses of changes in field efficiency or success, such as response rates or calling patterns and outcomes;
  3. changes in cost structures due to new infrastructure, changed field procedures, or other modifications; 
  4. the role of survey organizations in providing insights related to contact tracing, antibody testing, and other pandemic monitoring and evaluation methods;
  5. explorations of respondents’ understanding of question wording on pandemic-related topics, including focus groups, interviews, or experiments;
  6. analyses of individuals’ opinions and behaviors during the pandemic;
  7. examination of predictors and consequences of lockdowns, economic upheaval, and social unrest during the pandemic;
  8. assessments of attitudes toward leaders at different levels, including predictors and consequences;
  9. potential impact of the pandemic on voting intentions and voting behavior during the 2020 Presidential election;
  10. impacts of the pandemic on the 2020 Decennial Census;
  11. evaluations of administrative records related to testing, mortality, or other public health resources used during the pandemic; and
  12. data linkages between multiple data sources used to understand the pandemic, including survey data, social media data, hospital data, or other administrative data.

The abstract submission site is the same for the AAPOR mini-conference and the main AAPOR conference. The proposal submission form asks for author contact information, title, presentation track, keywords describing the content of the presentation, and an abstract of no more than 300 words. Abstract submitters will be asked to indicate whether their abstract is being submitted for the mini-conference or the main conference. To promote broad conference participation, an individual may not submit more than two proposals as first author, regardless of the proposed format of the submission or whether the submission is for the mini-conference or main conference.

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