Washington Statistical Society
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April 2014


WSS Elections Coming Soon!

Annual Election of Board Members for WSS

Every spring since the Washington Statistical Society was formally organized in 1926, the members of the Society are asked to vote for members who will represent them on the Board of Directors. This year's election will be held on-line, in the second half of May. Eligible voters will receive an email with instructions on how to get information about the candidates and how to vote. We urge you to exercise your right to vote and chose the candidates that you believe will best serve the Society. I would like to thank each of the candidates for running for office despite the many other responsibilities they have.

You will notice a new position on this year's ballot - Communications Officer. The membership approved the creation of this position in a constitutional ballot in 2012. On that ballot the position was described as follows: There are several volunteer positions within the WSS that revolve around electronic communication, website updates, membership list maintenance, and e-mail lists. Many of the responsibilities of these positions overlap with one or more other positions. The Board of Directors feels the need to add a board level position, with voting rights, to coordinate these roles and ensure continuity in maintaining membership rolls for the Society, communicating events of interest in a timely fashion, and upkeep of the WSS website. The new position, called Communications Officer, would coordinate the duties of membership chair, website maintenance, newsletter, and e-mail notifications to ensure that members have access to relevant and timely information about events of importance in the DC area.

I would also urge each of you to consider whether you could serve the statistical community in the Washington area by volunteering for some activity with the WSS. If you are willing to serve in any capacity, please email the incoming President Diane Herz at DHerz@Mathematica-Mpr.com and let her know. There are always a host of activities that need volunteers.

All members eligible to vote, that is, those who have paid their WSS dues as of March 31, 2014, will receive an email with instructions on voting electronically sometime in May. Voting will be open for two to three weeks. Please vote.

– Keith Rust, Past-President and Chair of the Nominations Committee

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WSS President's Lecture Draws Big Crowd

On Wednesday, March 26 the Washington Statistical Society hosted its annual President's lecture at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dr. Michael Brick of Westat was the featured speaker with WSS President, Nancy Bates, serving as chair and moderator. The lecture drew quite a crowd with over 100 people requesting to attend in person and close to forty participating remotely via WebEX.

Mike reported on findings from a recent taskforce report commissioned by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). The report was on the topic of using nonprobability samples in survey and market research. An abbreviated version of the report was recently published in the new Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology. Mike reported on the conclusions and recommendations of the report including:

  • Unlike probability sampling, there is no single framework that adequately encompasses all of non-probability sampling.
  • Researchers and other data users may find it useful to think of the different non- probability sample approaches as falling on a continuum of expected accuracy of the estimates.
  • Transparency is essential when reporting estimates from nonprobability samples.
  • Making inferences for any probability or non-probability survey requires some reliance on modeling assumptions.
  • Non-probability samples may be appropriate for making statistical inferences, but the validity of the inferences rests on the appropriateness of the assumptions underlying the model and how deviations from those assumptions affect the specific estimates.
  • If non-probability samples are to gain wider acceptance among survey researchers there must be a more coherent framework and accompanying set of measures for evaluating their quality.
  • Although non-probability samples often have performed well in electoral polling, the evidence of their accuracy is less clear in other domains and in more complex surveys that measure many different phenomena.
  • Fit for purpose is an important concept for judging survey quality, but its application to survey design requires further elaboration.
  • Sampling methods used with opt-in panels have evolved significantly over time and, as a result, research aimed at evaluating the validity of survey estimates from these sample sources should focus on sampling methods.

The entire taskforce report is available at www.aapor.org and slides from the lecture are on the WSS website at: www.washstat.org/sem2014.html#140326. The WSS thanks Dan Gillman, John Dixon, Polly Phipps and MoonJung Cho of BLS for helping arrange and remotely broadcast the seminar. Thanks also to Mike for delivering such a well-received lecture! If you have topics or suggested speakers for future WSS seminars, please contact Dan Liao and Mike Fleming, WSS Methodology and Program Chairs (dliao@rti.org, cfleming0@cox.net).

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Seeking Award Nominations
The Info-Metrics Annual Prize in Memory of Halbert L. White, Jr.

The Info-Metrics Institute is pleased to announce the creation of the Halbert L. White, Jr. prize in memory of one of the Institute's founding Board members who passed away on March 31, 2012. Intended to reward outstanding academic research by an early-career scholar in the field of info-metrics, the prize carries an award of $2000 to be conferred either to an individual or shared among joint recipients. The award ceremony will occur at the first Info- Metrics meeting (conference or workshop) following the announcement of the award recipient.

The annual Info-Metrics prize will be given for the best recent published work, in any academic discipline, that is deemed likely to bring important advances to multiple academic disciplines in the area of info-metrics (the science and practice of inference and quantitative information processing).

The first prize will be given in 2014. All topics within the field of info-metrics are eligible, regardless of discipline.

The inaugural Award Committee consists of Essie Maasoumi (Emory; Social Sciences)-Chair; Ariel Caticha (SUNY Albany; Natural Sciences); Luciano Floridi (Oxford; Philosophy); Yuichi Kitamura (Yale; Social Sciences); Raphael D. Levine (Hebrew U. and UCLA; Natural Sciences); Aman Ullah (UC Riverside; Social Sciences).

For more information on the nomination procedure see:

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Volunteers Needed for the ASA Booth at the
USA Science and Engineering Festival

Volunteers are needed to assist with the staffing of the American Statistical Association booth at the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival on Friday, April 25 (from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.), Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27 (from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day) at the Washington Convention Center. The basic duties are to help with several hands-on activities that emphasize important statistical ideas in an informal setting and to answer questions from the public. An ASA staff member will also be at the booth most of the time. However, having 2 to 3 additional volunteers there will help immensely since the organizers estimate that around 10,000 people will visit each booth over the three days. Plus, it's fun!!!!

If you can volunteer for two or more hours on any of these days, please contact Carol Joyce Blumberg by April 16 at cblumberg@gmail.com. Please specify which hours you can volunteer.

The festival itself will have more than 3,000 exhibits, stage shows, a book fair with author presentations, a career pavilion and much more. Friday is a sneak peek day (attendance by invitation only). Saturday and Sunday are open to the public and the entire festival is free of charge. Even if you cannot volunteer, bring your family and friends and give your future and current scientists the experience of a lifetime. For more information, the festival website is at http://www.usasciencefestival.org/.

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Be Informed And Get Involved!
Washington Statistical Society's Spotlight on Members Program

The WSS Board of Directors has established a program to highlight members who have made or are making notable contributions to the work of their organization or their professional field of expertise. We know that WSS members are doing interesting work in the fields of statistics, survey methodology, and the social sciences. Through this program, we hope to spotlight the accomplishments of our fellow WSS members.

This is our first request for nominations, to be featured in an upcoming issue of WSS News. We are interested in featuring members at all levels of the employment spectrum including recent graduates, mid-career employees, and those seasoned veterans.

Please feel free to nominate more than one person or a team working together. You may also nominate yourself as well. The nominees must be members of the WSS and not currently affiliated with the Board.

Please provide us with the following information about your nominee or nominees.

  1. Your name, email address, and telephone number
  2. Name or names of nominee(s)
  3. Organizational affiliation
  4. Job title
  5. Their contact information including email address and telephone number
  6. A brief narrative describing the reasons for your nomination
  7. A photo of the nominee, although not required, would be great be greatly appreciated

Please submit your nominations or direct any questions to, John Finamore (jfinamore@nsf.gov), member of the WSS Board.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Paul Beatty and family

WSS Member In The Spotlight
Meet WSS Member Paul Beatty

1. Where do you work and what do you do?
I'm currently CHief of the Ambulatory and Hospital Care Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. My branch designs and implements national surveys about the health care that people receive in physician offices and hospitals. We also produce public-use data files, web tables, Data Briefs and other publications for a variety of audiences. Genereally we have about five or six national surveys going at a time, last year amounting to about $27 million worth of work, and a staff of about 28.

2. What attracted you to your current position?
I'm a methodologist by training, and did quistionnaire evaluation and methods research for many years. I liked the work but started to think I was repeating myself—plus, I realized that I hadn't done a survey in a long time. I started to worry that my persepective, and the advice I gave, wasn't grounded enough in the reality of how surveys are actually done. So I made a major change, from being primarily a researcher o household surveys, to primarily a manager of establishment surveys. It was a difficult adjustment—but it proved to be a fantastic growth opportunity. I went far outside my comfort zone, but it would be hard to overstate how much I've learned.

3. Finish this sentence: "I joined WSS to..."
...stay connected with people who share my professional interests—to learn from them, to build new personal and professional connections, and to have fun as well.

4. What was your first job?
I typed library catalog cards—a skill that is now completely obsolete!

5. What was the last book you read?
A. Scott Berg's biography of Woodrow Wilson

6. How do you like to spend your free time away from work?
Readings, running, biking, movies, listening to music, genealogy, traveling and getaways with the family...as time allows!

7. Why did you join the statistics profession?
In college I was more of the literary type&emdash;but not knowing what I ultimately wanted to do, I kept taking math classes to keep my options open. Statistics courses became a pragmatic extension of that. Later I had a art time job at the Survey Reearch Center at Michigan, and it occurred to me that survey resrearch was a great fit given my love of both languate and quantitative analysis. It's continued to be a gratifying career on both counts, and has given me the opportunity to create information where it didn't previously exist, and to work on some important problems.

8. What skills are important for the next generation of statistics professionals?
An explosion in both volume and sources of data means that the cutting-edge analytic skills for "big data" will be in great demand. But this is also going to require creativity and adaptablilty. Data and technology are likely to continue changing rapidly, and many of the callenges to be addressed aren't even know yet—so flexibility, openness to learning new skills, and ability to think of fresh solutions will be vital. There are going to be great opportunities for innovative thinkers.

9. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Curious. Pragmatic. Loyal.

10. Have you had any great mentors? If so, what made them great?
I've been helped by so many people along the way, they'd be impossible to count. Especially early on, those who let me know that they had faith n my talent or potential—before I had any real sense of it—made a huge difference. Throughout my career, I've been extraordinarily fourtunate in having mentors who were very willing to share their knowledge and experience.

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the May, 2014 issue of the WSS NEWS will be accepted until the 29th day of the preceding month.

Email items to wss.editor@gmail.com.

Please submit all materials in MS WORD or plain text.

Please do not submit your items in pdf or include them in the body of an email.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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