SSRS Opinion Panel

Rigorous Standards Combine Accuracy, Flexibility, and Affordability

Background

The SSRS Opinion Panel is a nationally representative panel of U.S. adults age 18 or older. The current size of the panel is 10,000 (and growing!). The hallmarks of the SSRS Opinion Panel are methodological rigor, accuracy, affordability, mode flexibility and representativeness. Our panel is being actively used by major academic institutions, media organizations and other private sector entities – both in the U.S. and abroad.

As a charter member of the AAPOR (American Association for Public Opinion Research) Transparency Initiative, SSRS is committed to full compliance of AAPOR standards and transparency.

SSRS Opinion Panel Team and Service Offering

Our highly experienced SSRS Opinion Panel team stands ready to support both data collection and analytic client needs. We work closely with clients from the early project planning stages to developing and delivering effective customized solutions. Our services include questionnaire design, web questionnaire programming and hosting, user experience (UX) testing, cognitive interviews, data collection, statistical weighting, and data analysis and reporting. Specific SSRS Opinion Panel services include:

  • Methodological consulting
  • SSRS Opinion Panel custom surveys
  • Sub-population specific surveys such as surveys of Hispanics, people with specific health insurance statuses, caregivers, parents, registered voters, and people with different chronic health conditions
  • Establishment and maintenance of custom proprietary panels

Panel Recruitment

Panel members are recruited randomly from a dual-frame random digit dial (RDD) sample, through the SSRS Omnibus survey platform. The SSRS Omnibus survey is a nationally representative (including Hawaii and Alaska) bilingual telephone survey designed to meet standards of quality associated with custom research studies. The SSRS Omnibus achieves more than 50,000 surveys annually. Each wave consists of 1,000 interviews, of which 600 are obtained with respondents on their cell phones, and 400 with respondents on landline phones.

The advantage of this recruiting design is that it relies on an existing, high-quality survey platform resulting in an affordable probabilistically-sourced panel. In addition, it affords the flexibility of recruiting a panel that includes adequate representation of typically under-represented groups in public opinion polls such as Hispanics, African Americans, lower educated, or lower income populations. Respondents of the SSRS Omnibus represent the full U.S. adult population (English- and Spanish-speaking). From this base, we screen for Internet access. Respondents with internet access are recruited for online surveys. All non-internet respondents are contacted via phone for panel surveys where full coverage is required.

Survey Mode

The SSRS Opinion Panel is a multi-mode panel. All internet households participate via web and all non-internet households participate via phone. SSRS’s own research on non-internet respondents suggests that more than 8 in 10 non-internet respondents are unwilling to take surveys via web. SSRS has therefore made a decision not to provide internet access to non-internet households as providing internet access does not effectively address the coverage bias of non-internet households. By definition, non-internet households need to be contacted via a non-internet mode.

For studies that need completion via a singular web mode yet seek to ensure national representation, the SSRS Advanced Methods team has developed a proprietary propensity weighting solution that takes estimates derived for the U.S. adult internet population and adjusts them to mirror the full U.S. adult population (see the section on weighting).

SSRS web surveys comply with industry best practices. They are optimized for smartphone/mobile device administration and are adapted to all operating systems and browsers.

SSRS Opinion Panel Data Weighting

To correct for known biases due to sampling and non-response, SSRS Opinion Panel data are weighted. The weighting process takes into account disproportionate probabilities of selection across and within households in the SSRS Omnibus (base weight). Following applications of the base weight, survey data are weighted to account for systematic nonresponse along known parameters such as age, race, gender, region, and education. Since we have detailed demographics of those who choose to not participate in the panel, SSRS has developed a weighting solution that adjusts estimates to correct for panel nonresponse, a feature unique to the SSRS Opinion Panel.

In addition, for studies involving completion of surveys via a singular web mode, SSRS’s Advanced Methods team has developed a model-based weighting solution that predicts non-internet use[1]. This calibration model serves as a propensity weight applied to online households so that they are more projectable to the overall U.S. adult population. This weight is only applied for studies that exclude non-internet households but the study population is all U.S. adults.

How is the SSRS Opinion Panel an improvement over opt-in Online Panels?

Most recent research suggests that probability samples interviewed by telephone or the internet provides accurate data. Surveys of a probability sample combined with an opt-in sample are less accurate than surveys of full probability samples. Least accurate are internet surveys comprised entirely of opt-in panel sample.[2] The SSRS Opinion Panel is a probability-based panel because it recruits randomly selected panelists from a probability-based sample source that reflects the full U.S. adult population (dual-frame RDD). Results obtained from this panel can statistically represent the U.S. adult population, with a known margin of error. Unlike typical opt-in panels, no one can “volunteer” to be part of the SSRS Opinion Panel. They must be selected randomly and invited to participate.

How are SSRS Opinion Panel Surveys Conducted?

During the recruitment process, full demographic information on panelists is collected. This data is stored securely and used to determine eligibility for specific studies (if needed). We also rely on these data in order to improve the survey experience for panelists by avoiding the need to re-ask demographic questions with each survey. Samples are drawn among panel members to best meet the study criteria. Selected panelists are sent an email invitation to participate in the survey, including unique survey login credentials. The respondent logs in and completes the self-administered online survey.

Response to any given survey, or a specific question within a survey, is voluntary. Panelists without internet access participate in surveys via phone.

The SSRS Opinion Panel also includes panelists who are primarily Spanish speakers. We translate and conduct surveys in Spanish as required by a specific project.

SSRS Opinion Panel Standard Deliverables

SSRS Opinion Panel standard deliverables include access to an online dashboard that provides near real-time project updates during data collection, a weighted SPSS data file including standard demographic variables, and an AAPOR compliant methodology statement provided upon completion of all data collection and weighting.

SSRS is a full-service non-partisan public opinion firm. In addition to standard deliverables, our deliverables and other offered services are fully customizable to client needs.

SSRS Opinion Panel Demographics

A battery of demographic and other questions is asked during the recruitment of panelists. These questions are stored securely and kept for identifying target respondents, used for weighting, and can be appended to study data to expand what is known about respondents. Demographics are typically not re-asked for every survey, unless there is reason to believe that the data could have changed in a meaningful way. Key demographics are provided in the table.

[1] Dutwin, D., and Buskirk, T. (2019). A deeper dive on the digital divide. Currently under peer review.

[2] The Accuracy of Measurement with probability and non-probability survey samples by Bo MacInnis, Jon A. Krosnick, Annabell S. Ho, Mu-Jung Cho, POQ, Vol 82, No. 4, Winter 2018, pp. 707-744

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