Janet Harkness- the passing of a great mind in survey research

I just received this announcement from WAPOR. This is sad news. I attended an AAPOR short course that she helped to teach in the Spring of 2010, and she was very sharp, insightful and kind. At the time I was researching multilingual, multinational and multicultural surveys, and her writing was one of my mainstays.

“Janet Harkness died on Memorial Day (May 28, 2012) in Germany at age 63.  Harkness was the Director of the Survey Research and Methodology graduate program and Gallup Research Center, and holder of the Donald and Shirley Clifton Chair in Survey Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  She was the founder and Chair of the Organizing Committee on the International Workshop on Comparative Survey Design and Implementation (CSDI).  Her many contributions to cross-national and cross-cultural survey research included service as Head of the International Social Survey Programme’s Methodology Committee (1997-2008),  board member of the National Science Foundation’s (USA) Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences Advisory Board (2008-present),  board member of the  Deutsches Jugendinstitut (Germany) Advisory Board (2009-present), Co-initiator of the Cross-Cultural Survey Guidelines Initiative, Chair of the Organizing Committee for the International Conference on Survey Methods in Multicultural, Multinational and Multiregional Contexts (3MC, Berlin 2008), and member of the European Social Survey’s (ESS) Central Coordinating Team. The ESS was awarded the European Union’s top annual science award, the Descartes Prize, in 2005.  She has been a member of WAPOR since 2009.

Besides her substantial contributions and organizational achievements in cross-national survey research, Harkness made major contributions to the scholarly literature including Cross-Cultural Survey Equivalence (1998), Cross-Cultural Survey Methods (with F.J.R. Van de Vijver and P. Ph. Mohler, 2003), and Survey Methods in Multicultural, Multinational, and Multiregional Contexts (with M. Braun, B. Edwards, T.P. Johnson, L.F Lyberg, P. PH. Mohler, B. Pennell and T.W. Smith, 2010).

As her professional colleague, Don Dillman, Regents Professor at Washington State Unversity, noted of Janet “I don’t know of anyone who has done as much thinking as she has about cross-cultural surveys, and how measurement differs across languages and countries…That’s one of the major challenges we now face in doing surveys as we increasingly shift to a world-wide emphasis in survey design.”

She is survived by her husband Peter Ph. Mohler.”


10/15/12 Edited to add some great news:

Announcement for the Janet A. Harkness Student Paper Award

The Janet A. Harkness Student Paper Award will be issued annually, starting in 2013, by the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) to honor the memory of Dr. Harkness and the inspiration she brought to her students and colleagues.

In particular, WAPOR and AAPOR will consider papers related to the study of multi-national/ multi-cultural/multi-lingual survey research (aka 3M survey research), or to the theory and methods of 3M survey research, including statistics and statistical techniques used in such research. Paper topics might include: (a) methodological issues in 3M surveys; (b) public opinion in 3M settings; (c) theoretical issues in the formation, quality, or change in 3M public opinion; (d) or substantive findings about 3M public opinion. The competition committee encourages submissions that deal with the topics of the annual conferences, for which the call for papers are posted on both associations’ websites in the fall.

Submissions to the Harkness award competition are anticipated to be 15-25 pages in length. A prize of $750 will be awarded to the winning paper and the author(s) of the paper will be invited to deliver it as a part of either the annual WAPOR conference, AAPOR conference, or in certain years the WAPOR-AAPOR joint conference.

For a winning paper with one author, WAPOR and AAPOR will pay for the author’s travel expenses to and from the nearest WAPOR or AAPOR annual conference for that year. However, for a winning submission with multiple authors, WAPOR and AAPOR will pay only for the primary author (or his/her designee, who must be a co-author) to present the paper. Up to two other papers each year may receive an Honorable Mention designation with each receiving a $100 cash prize (though no travel expenses).

All authors must be current students (graduate or undergraduate) at the time of the submission, or must have received their degree during the preceding calendar year. The research must have been substantially completed while the author was (all authors were) enrolled in a degree program. Preference will be given to papers based on research not presented elsewhere.

A panel of public opinion researchers from WAPOR and AAPOR’s membership – drawn from academic, government, and commercial sectors – will judge the papers.

The 2013 Call-for-Submission of papers for the Harkness Award will be issued in the near future.


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