Last week I attended the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Annual Conference for the first time. These are my top 5 takeaways:
- AAPOR is a strong association and conference. Perhaps this goes without saying but it is not the case with all organizations. AAPOR members are dedicated to their industry and passionate about research. This is also how we approach the field at FMG and it is nice to spend time with like-minded industry colleagues. The amount of work that volunteers have put into making AAPOR a strong association is a testament to the quality of membership. With significant threats to the current practice of survey methodology such as non-response, AAPOR is tackling these issues head on and aligning the industry for future success.
- AAPOR Short courses are great and well worth the investment. While at AAPOR I was able to take a short course on qualitative research methods. This course had an amazing amount of material for just a few hours of instruction. The course primarily focused on implementation and quality control. I look forward to integrating what I learned into FMG's qualitative offerings.
- AAPOR has something for all. AAPOR is probably most associated with survey research and methods. Although this is indeed the focus for many AAPOR attendees, the conference offers much more. Public opinion research need not be entirely focused on surveys. Focus groups, interviews, and even surveys drawn from less than ideal samples can all inform our knowledge of public opinion. AAPOR recognizes this as evidenced by the short course mentioned above and the research solutions of many AAPOR members, including FMG.
- AAPOR does it right with ResearchHack. I participated in the ResearchHack 2.0 competition along with two fellow early career attendees from the Census Bureau. We were assigned to be on a team together and then work to tackle a field research problem involving anti-Polio vaccine sentiments in a hard to reach part of Karachi, Pakistan. Although our team was not selected it was great to work with my teammates and get the feedback from the judges. I highly recommend any future AAPOR attendees to take advantage of this opportunity. Other conferences should take note and consider networking and teambuilding activities like this. Conferences can involve more than presentations and banquets, and AAPOR has demonstrated that with ResearchHack.
- AAPOR is a great place to network. I really enjoyed meeting colleagues in the industry at AAPOR. I met folks working in all settings from academia to software sales. It is never entirely obvious how networking will pay off but it already has for me. I was able to learn about potential resources and options for how we implement some of our projects. I look forward to staying in touch with the folks I met and attending many more AAPOR conferences in the future!
Looking forward to the DC AAPOR events to hold us over until the annual conference again in 2016. Did you attend AAPOR? Share your thoughts and top takeaways with FMG.