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Tom W. Smith

Tom W. Smith is a nationally 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 (1997-2000) 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 31 nations as members.

Smith has authored over 300 scholarly papers. His work in the social change area includes both wide-ranging studies that integrate trends across many different topics, such as Trends in Public Opinion: A Compendium of Survey Data (1989), "Liberal and Conservative Trends in the United States Since World War II," Public Opinion Quarterly (1990), and "Is There Real Opinion Change?," International Journal of Public Opinion Research (1994), and specialized studies on such matters as public attitudes towards the most important national problem, crime and punishment, ethnic and racial relations, governmental spending priorities, 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 89 papers.

Smith has taught at Purdue University and Northwestern University, and in Sociology and Political Science at the University of Chicago.

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 for the best article on public opinion. He currently is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Sex Research, The Public Perspective, 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 the American Association for Public Opinion Research, he has served as Secretary-Treasurer, Standards Chairman, and Counsellor-at-large.


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