Training and Education
As part of New Jersey's public
research university, Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling considers education a core value. As such, we make all our non-proprietary polling
information available to researchers and other interested citizens. Through
a joint effort with the Scholarly Communications Center at Rutgers,
Eagleton has established an on-line
searchable archive of its New Jersey media polls.
Training opportunities at ECPIP
include research assistantships and internships for students in the social
sciences and public policy fields. Many former students have followed
career paths in survey research, including the current President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Other
former staff have become key consultants in state government and private
ECPIP staff have also
written articles for scholarly journals and mass media, presented papers
at professional conferences, and given presentations on the proper use
of survey research to government officials, university research classes,
and business associations.
For those interested
in careers in survey research, the American
Association for Public Opinion Research publishes a booklet listing
career information in this field.
Staff Presentations and
How to Assess a Polls
There are no cut-and-dried
answers to what makes a poll valid.
All public reports of survey findings should include reference to the
Key things to look for are:
- Sponsorship of the survey
- Dates of interviewing
- Method of obtaining the interviews (in-person, telephone or mail)
- Population that was sampled
- Size of the sample
- Size and description of the sub-sample if the survey report relies primarily on less than the total sample
- Complete wording of questions upon which the release is based
- The percentages upon which conclusions are based
- size and corresponding margin of error (be cautious of results when the
margin of error exceeds 5 or 6 points);
- whether the sample was scientifically chosen or whether respondents
were self-selected (which is typical of 900 call-in polls
and many web-site polls); and
- the wording and order of the questions (look for questions that seem
to push the respondent to an answer by describing some options
more attractively than others).
is available in the short publication Twenty Questions A Journalist
Should Ask About Poll Results by Sheldon Gawiser and G. Evans Witt.
It is available on-line from the National
Council on Public Polls.
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