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American Population Panel Advancing Science for the Common Good

Ask Dr. Cooksey

Question: We've recently received concern from panel members about the Facebook data breach regarding Cambridge Analytica.

Answer: Like you, I am horrified by the news of Cambridge Analytica’s actions. I can assure you that we have nothing to do with them. Information you have provided to us as a panel member is stored on very high security servers here at OSU, and is not available to anyone at Facebook or elsewhere.

Confidentiality and security of information that is shared with us by individuals like yourself is of the utmost importance to us. We will NEVER release any identifying information about you to anyone outside of CHRR. Further, only a very few individuals within our research organization have access to your information. Those who do have sworn to keep your information private at all times.

Whenever a research study wishes to use panel members, the study has to first be scrutinized by members of Ohio State University’s Institutional Review Board and this is one of the many steps that sets us apart from commercial survey organizations. The American Population Panel is also overseen by this Board to ensure that we are both building the panel, and using the data only for projects that panel members have agreed to. We are NOT a marketing company, but a research center within the University.

I hope this helps to overcome any fears you might have about us and the manner in which we both store and use the information we collect. CHRR has been in existence for more than 50 years and we continue to work diligently to ensure that all personal data we keep will remain secure. We will never sell your information to any entity, and it will only be used to identify you as a potential respondent for bona fide research studies that CHRR undertakes.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you still have concerns.

PDF of letter

Question: Why have I not heard from you since I signed up to be a part of the American Population Panel?

Answer: The American Population Panel is NOT used for marketing purposes. It is designed for RESEARCH studies.

    Here are some differences:
  1. The APP will only ask you for information if the data we have already collected from you suggests you will be a match for the research survey. For example, we might have a study that needs to ask questions of mothers between the ages of 30 and 50 living in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. If you are female, between 30 and 50 years of age and living in any of these three states we would contact you to see if you have children. If you do, then you would be eligible to be part of the study and we would ask if you wanted to participate. We would NOT contact you at all if you are male, live in any of the other 47 US States or are below the age of 30 or above the age of 50.

    Many marketing panels will ask you to give them the same information you have given them many times before to see if you are eligible for a study. It is frustrating to have to answer multiple questions before finding out you are not eligible!

  2. As we build the panel and studies find it more and more useful to use, we expect the number of surveys we ask if you are interested in will increase. However, we will still contact you relatively rarely in comparison to marketing survey groups.

  3. APP research surveys will generally be longer than marketing surveys. This is because they will be used for research analyses that require many pieces of information to be analyzed together. Marketing surveys are often just trying to get an opinion on one or two ideas or find out about particular behaviors like your shopping habits. We are very unlikely to be interested in your shopping habits!

  4. Companies who pay for marketing surveys have money to pay for those surveys and the surveying marketing companies are businesses who need to cover their costs or make a profit. CHRR is a research center at The Ohio State University. We, and all the researchers who come to us with survey projects, are paying to start the panel up, design the surveys, and pay you as survey respondents. Many academic survey research projects are done on a very tight budget and one purpose of the APP is to help researchers get their projects up and running more inexpensively than if they had to recruit people like you themselves.

    We value your time and we will reward you for surveys you take and the time that you give us. Sometimes this will be in the form of money or a gift card, and at other times this may be via a drawing for prizes - the exact payment will depend on the research study.

  5. Sometimes we will ask you for quick feedback on just a few questions. This is similar to some marketing surveys. For this kind of request we are more likely to enter you into a drawing for a prize. For an example, a psychologist might want to try out a few questions to measure something like "happiness" or "trust", or a political scientist might want to get your feedback concerning a political event or topical issue. These types of requests are likely to take you very little time but the kinds of information we will be asking you for is likely to differ from the kinds of information marketers want to know about.
Dr. Elizabeth Cooksey's head shot

Dr. Elizabeth Cooksey, Professor of Sociology and Director, CHRR at The Ohio State University

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