Fix the AAPOR Membership Database

It is critical that AAPOR be completely transparent about its progress on diversity efforts.

This requires data and metrics. The AAPOR Membership Database can be used to establish a baseline and to track change in the diversity of our membership and leadership. Upon initial member sign-up, members are asked to provide professional (affiliation, highest degree and year obtained, years in research, and employer) and demographic information (year of birth, race, Hispanic ethnicity, gender).

These data should provide us with an up-to-date picture of who our members are. However, they have significant limitations. The primary limitation is missing data. Depending on the variable, data are missing for 16-50% of members. The other limitation is due to the fact that the initial member data are provided at membership sign-up and are rarely updated by the member. Therefore, many pieces of information may be significantly out of date. While most demographic variables do not change over time, many of the professional variables will. The professional and demographic variables, and percent missing for each, are shown in Table 1 below.

Having data about members is critical to being able to monitor and update the organization about the success or failure of diversity efforts. We’ve identified six critical steps that will begin to resolve the data issues AAPOR is currently experiencing. In general, the Membership and Chapter Relations (MCR) committee will work with AAPOR staff to undertake these initiatives on an ongoing basis.

Table 1. Professional and demographic data currently collected in membership database
Variable % Missing as of August 2016
Professional Affiliation (Academic, For-Profit, Non-Profit, Government, Retired, Other) 35%
Highest Degree (Less than BA, BA, MA, PhD, Other) 41%
Year Degree Obtained 49%
Years in Research (Less than 1, 1-2, 3-5, 6-10, 11-20, 21+, I am not in the public opinion/survey research field) 42%
Employer name 16%
Year of Birth 47%
Race (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, White/Caucasian, Other) 43%
Hispanic Ethnicity (Hispanic, Non-Hispanic) 50%
Gender (Male / Female) 40%
  • Ongoing initiatives:
    • Review the variables currently collected to ensure they are useful and appropriate. This could include making gender more inclusive, allow for multi-racial responses, and refining the affiliation response options to allow for more meaningful analysis.
    • In all receipts sent to AAPOR members (e.g., when renewing or purchasing a webinar), add a link that displays an icon representing the member’s level of profile completeness and allows the member to click and update their profile. This should also include an explanation to members about why this information is important to the association and ultimately to them.
    • Develop reporting mechanisms that easily produce reports from the database information about the composition of the membership.
    • Have laptops or iPads available at the conference membership booth to encourage members to update their profiles.
    • Conduct an “AAPOR Census” to update and complete membership profiles.
  • Long term considerations:
    • Evaluate software with logic that will require annual updating of demographic and professional information, as well as send reminders to individuals who are missing critical data. (Include an explicit refusal (or “don’t want to answer”) button so that all questions in the profile must be completed in order to renew.)