(Text of Award)
The American Association for Public Opinion Research
2000 Innovators Award
J. Merrill Shanks, Tom Piazza, Charlie Thomas,
Richard Rockwell, William Lefes, and Tom Smith
For the Development of Web-based Products for Free
Dissemination of Public Opinion Data
At the Computer-assisted Survey Methods Program at the University of California at Berkeley, Merrill Shanks, Tom Piazza, Charlie Thomas and their team members have created an on-line system that includes a wealth of data files and documentation. Their innovations enable any user not only to download summary findings, but also access and manipulate the data set for custom analysis on line or download the data set for use with other programs.
At the same time, Richard Rockwell of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), Tom Smith and William Lefes of NORC broadened the accessibility of the General Social Survey, a major source of data on social and political issues and their changes over time. They developed the General Social Survey Data and Information Retrieval System (GSSDIRS) in 1996 that put the codebook, bibliography, and data on-line, and created over 30,000 hypertext links to other sites to facilitate access to the GSS. A user can now use the GSS on a case level or total basis, and also asssemble an interactive bibliography for a question asked in the GSS, drawing from articles and reports in which the question has been used by others.
Thanks to these innovations, a graduate student in Malaysia or a policy analyst in Washington, or a reporter in London or Saudi Arabia, with just a computer and a phone line can immediately access the wealth of data and trends on subjects ranging from spanking children to the death penalty, sex education, or belief in God. These users can find the results, manipulate the data for their custom analysis, and also discover other analysis of these questions and directly link to that relevant online research.
Both innovations have multiplied the utility of important social research. Taken together, they provide a model for all of us to emulate in making public opinion research widely accessible. The awardees -- and by extension all their team members in California and Illinois -- are so honored by their leadership in using new technologies to advance survey research.
Michael Traugott, President
May 20, 2000