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July 20, 2004 Press Contact: William Harms
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Biography of Tom W. Smith

Tom W. Smith is an internationally recognized expert in survey research specializing in the study of social change and survey methodology. Since 1980 he has been co-principal investigator of the National Data Program for the Social Sciences and director of its General Social Survey (GSS). This is the largest and longest-term project supported by the Sociology program of the National Science Foundation. The mission of the GSS is to monitor changes and consistencies in American society and to develop models to explain change (or stability).

He is also co-founder and Secretary General (1997-2003) of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). The ISSP is the largest cross-national collaboration in the social sciences. It has conducted an international survey annually since 1985 and currently has 40 nations as members.

In addition, he is co-principal investigator of the 2001 National Tragedy Study which replicated key components of the 1963 Kennedy Assassination Study and measured public reactions to the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Smith has authored over 450 scholarly papers. His work in the social change area includes both wide ranging studies that integrate trends across many different topics and specialized studies on such matters as public attitudes towards the most important national problem, family structure and family values, ethnic and racial relations, governmental spending priorities, national pride, and sexual behavior.

He has also written on virtually every aspect of survey methods including non-response, question wording, nonattitudes, order and context, recall, respondent understanding, and test/retest reliability. He has organized an extensive program of data quality assurance and methodological analysis on the GSS and edits the GSS Methodological Report series which contains 110 papers.

Smith has taught at Purdue University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Tel Aviv University. Smith has served on the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Survey Measurement of Subjective Phenomena, the Board of Directors of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, the National Science Foundation's Committee on Data Sharing in the Social Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Subcommittee on Monitoring the AIDS Epidemic.

He was awarded the 1994 Worcester Prize by the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) for the best article on public opinion, the 2000 and 2003 Innovators Awards of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the 2002 AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement, and the 2003 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Sociology of the Eastern Sociological Society.

He currently is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Sex Research, Sociological Methods and Research, Social Science Research, Sociological Methodology, and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research and is former editor of the Poll Trends section of Public Opinion Quarterly.

A long-time member of AAPOR and WAPOR he has served as AAPOR's Secretary-Treasurer, Standards Chairman, Conference Chairman, and Counsellor-at-large and as WAPOR's Standards Chairman and its representative to the International Organization on Standardization. He also chaired the special AAPOR committee that prepared Standard Definitions: Final Disposition of Case Codes and Outcome Rates for RDD Telephone Surveys and In-Person Household Surveys (1998, 2000, 2004, and 2006).

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Last modified at 02:16 PM CST on Wednesday, March 01, 2006.

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