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Tuesday 18th July, 09:00 – 10:30, Aula Magna – Conference opening and Keynote Address

“Social measurement: how are we doing?”
Daniel Oberski (Utrecht University)

Our goal as methodologists is to measure human behavior, opinion, and decision-making. What are we doing to achieve this goal, and how well are we doing at it? In this talk I will discuss some of the measurement techniques we have developed over time based on various sources of data, including (but not limited to) surveys, digital trace data, administrative registers, behavioral observations, experiments, and machine learning, across different disciplines that deal with data generated by humans. I will reflect on current knowledge regarding the quality of our measures, as well as current practices of taking that knowledge into account in applied research. Finally, I will reflect on some potential avenues for improvement.

Daniel Oberski is a full professor of Data Science with a joint appointment at the department of Methodology and Statistics of Utrecht University and the department of Data Science at University Medical Center in The Netherlands, currently working on my VIDI project from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), “Advancing social science with valid measures derived from incidental data”. He has also task leader of the Social Data Science (SoDa) team within the Dutch national infrastructure for the social sciences, ODISSEI, and part of UMCU’s digital health program. His research focuses on the problem of measurement in the social and health sciences. To draw accurate substantive conclusions, scientists need to measure reliably and validly. Where this ideal is unattainable, the extent of the problem should be known so it can be accounted for in the substantive analysis. He is a member of the Utrecht Young Academy and the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004–5 he was a cofounding board member of the European Survey Research Association (ESRA).

Thursday 20th July, 11:00 – 12:30, Aula Magna – Panel Discussion

“Survey research post-pandemic: What is it becoming?”
Chair: Gerry Nicolaas (National Centre for Social Research)

Panel Participants:

  • Brad Edwards, Vice President, Westat, Large Surveys Practice
  • Rory Fitzgerald, Professor of Practice in Survey Research, City, University of London
  • Ruud Luijkx, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Tilburg University
  • Caroline Roberts, Assistant Professor in Survey Methodology, University of Lausanne
  • Christof Wolf, President, GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The panel discussion will bring together experts in the field to share insights about the changing survey landscape and the impact that this is having on survey practice. The panel will explore how advances in technology and changes in societal norms are changing the way surveys are designed and implemented. Even before the pandemic, we were already witnessing a shift from traditional interviewer-administered surveys to online surveys, either as a stand-alone mode or embedded within a mixed mode system including face-to-face, telephone and paper. The panel will reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on these advances and changes. This includes discussing the challenges and opportunities that have arisen from conducting surveys during a pandemic, and to what extent these will continue to shape the future of survey research. The panel will discuss how survey practitioners and researchers can navigate current challenges and opportunities to ensure that their surveys remain robust, efficient, and effective in providing high-quality data and insights that can inform decision-making processes. The panel discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A.


Brad Edwards is a Westat Vice President with more than 40 years of experience at the nexus of large-scale survey management and methodology. He has an international reputation in total survey error, survey design, data collection, and project management. Brad has been a key organizer of 4 major international survey methods conferences and co-editor of basic texts on total survey error, hard-to-survey populations, and multinational/multicultural survey methods. He has designed, redesigned, and directed a number of national surveys for U.S. federal statistical agencies. Over the past 3 decades he has played critical roles in the design and implementation of innovative face-to-face survey methods and tools that have become standards in the field.

Rory Fitzgerald became Director of the European Social Survey (ESS) in 2013 having been a Senior Research Fellow at City, University of London since 2004. In November 2013, the UK and 14 other European governments established the European Social Survey as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ESS ERIC) – an independent international research organisation hosted at City, University of London. ESS ERIC now has 28 Members. Rory is the first Director of ESS ERIC and oversees the ESS Core Scientific Team (CST) and the ESS National Coordinators Forum. In addition to these committees, he works closely with the General Assembly as well as the Scientific and Methods advisory boards. Rory is an Associate Editor of ESRA’s Survey Research Methods Journal and ESRA Board member 2021-2023.

Ruud Luijkx is Associate Professor in the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Tilburg, Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford, and Research Fellow at the Department of sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento. He is the Chair of the Executive Committee for the European Values Study (EVS). The EVS is a large-scale, cross-national, repeated cross-sectional survey research programme on basic human values. As Chair of the Executive Committee, Ruud and his fellow committee members are responsible for running the day-to-day business of the EVS project, for preparing meetings and decisions of the EVS Assembly and the EVS Council, leading the development of the survey programme.

Caroline Roberts is Assistant Professor in Survey Methodology in the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne. Caroline is an expert in survey methodology, questionnaire design and the measurement of public opinion. She has worked in the coordinating teams of a number of large-scale surveys, including the European Social Survey and the American National Election Studies, and has extensive experience in the design and implementation of methodological research investigating influences on the quality of survey data. Her research interests relate to the measurement and reduction of different types of survey error. Caroline was ESRA president from 2019 to 2021.

Christof Wolf is President of GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences since 2015 and holds a professorship for Sociology at the University of Mannheim. He has served as PI for many German and international surveys. He is currently spokesperson of the DFG-funded Consortium for the social, educational, behavioral and economic sciences in the National Research Data Infrastructure. His research interests are in the areas of quantitative social research, social data science, sociology of health and social stratification.