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Utilizing Probability Panels: Best Practices in Planning, Fielding, and Analysis (online)

October 25, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This course will be offered over two afternoons (10/23/23 from 2pm-4pm and 10/25/23 from 3pm-5pm US Eastern) via Zoom only. Please note that there are different class times on each date.

Attendance is required as the course will not be recorded.


Due to increasing survey costs and declining response rates, probability panels have become a major research vehicle for private, foundational, non-profit, academic, and even federally sponsored surveys. The attraction of probability panels for surveys is their ability to attain, dependent upon their recruitment methodologies, comparable response rates to cross-sectional surveys at a lower cost and more expeditiously. Panels are a unique type of survey research platform: Unlike cross-sectional surveys, panels of course recruit respondents specifically for future participation in surveys. In return, panelists are financially compensated, typically to join the panel in the first place, and then secondarily for each survey in which they participate. These differences to cross-sectional surveys have a range of potential implications. How does the method and effort of recruiting impact who joins, and as a consequence what is best practice? What do panels do to retain panelists over time and which strategies are more successful than others? How much of a concern is panel conditioning, that is, the impact of persons repetitively taking surveys over time, and what are the implications for how frequently panelists should take surveys? How do panels, which exclusively request that panelists take surveys on the Internet, deal with people who do not have or are not comfortable using the Internet? What is the impact of panelist attrition and what are best efforts to replenish retired panelists? How successful are panels are executing true longitudinal surveys? And, given the additional layers of complexity, how are panel surveys properly weighted and estimated? This short course is designed to provide a guide for consumers of probability-based panels to understand what they are working with: What questions to ask and what features to understand about probability panels in evaluating their use for data collections, and how to best use probability-based panel data. Additionally, it will serve as an exploration of best practices for practitioners: Raising issues of total survey error sources, data quality, costs, and operational logistics.

Course Objectives:
– For consumers of panel data: Understanding the features of panels that relates to survey error, data quality, and costs; to know the important questions to ask panel vendors when assessing their fit for purpose for specific research projects.
– For researchers and practitioners: To understand the many dimensions and decision points in the building, maintenance, deployment, and delivery of multi-client panels and panel data.

This course will count as 4.0 CSS short course credits.

Instructors: Ipek Bilgen and David Dutwin

Ipek Bilgen is a Principal Research Methodologist in the Methodology and Quantitative Social Sciences Department at NORC at the University of Chicago. She also serves as Deputy Director of NORC’s Center for Panel Survey Sciences and oversees AmeriSpeak’s methodological research. Dr. Bilgen is currently serving as Associate Editor of Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ). She also teaches Survey Questionnaire Design course at the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.

David Dutwin is Senior Vice President of strategic initiatives and innovation at NORC at the University of Chicago, where he also serves as the Chief Scientist of AmeriSpeak, NORC multi-client nationally representative probability panel. He also is Executive Director of the panel operations and the AmeriStats divisions of the panel and Director of the Center for Panel Survey Sciences. Dr. Dutwin is a former president of AAPOR (2018-19) and a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Program for Opinion Research and Election Studies.

Registration fees:

  • UNC Chapel Hill Students (including current Certificate of Survey Science program students): $0, with a $25 deposit to hold your spot (deposit is refundable upon your attendance for at least 66% of the course)
  • UNC Chapel Hill Faculty/Staff/Postdoc/Resident/Visiting Scholars: $50
  • Non-UNC Chapel Hill University Student/Employee (must have active university email): $75
  • Government/Non-Profit/Corporate: $100

Additional course information:

  • Registration closes at 12:01am, 10/20/2023. Once registration closes, no late registrations will be accepted, no exceptions.
  • Cancellation/ Refund Policy: A full refund will be given to those who cancel their registration no later than 10 days prior to the course. If you cancel within the 10 days prior to the class, no refund will be given. Please allow 30 days to receive your refund.
  • Zoom link for this course will be sent prior to the course. Registration must be made at least 3 days prior to the course date to receive the Zoom link.

For questions regarding this class, please contact Jill Stevens at


October 25, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Categories:


NC United States