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April 04, 1997 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-04

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 4, 1997






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By Marc ILightdale Daily Staff Reporter
In 1946, ans-all group of survey researchers, who ofdifferent types of people who work atSRC.
collected data about World War II, decided to hmove "People are at all sorts of different stages and have
to a university setting to continue their research. all sorts of differentinterests,"Meek said. "You have
Fifty years later, policy makers like Drug Czar undergraduates and graduates, most of the graduate
Barry McCaffery and Corporation City President students are interested in social work while you havd
John Reed visit Ann Arbor to gain insight from their a lot of adults that were in the Work force."
flourishing contemporaries and the work performed The survey technician emphasized the diligence
at the Institute for Social Research. ISR produces of the SRC staff who administers and supervises
studies on everything from drug abuse to voter.trends. the surveys.
"ISR is a place of cutting-edge sci' r "I think tly bend over backwards to assure ran-
David Featherman said. "It's like a te s -. -....e domness anda curacy," Meek said.
the cyean look through and see what's happening
in Amorian study."

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The whit;six-story building on Thompson Street
houses the largest assembly of social scientists from
research universities across the country. The ISR is
one reason for the University's reputation as one of
the country's pre-eminent research institutions.
"One thing that makes the ISR unique is its size,"
Featherman said. "It is probably the largest collec-
tion of social scientists from all of the principle
social science institutions collected in any one
place, doing empirical measures of systemic change
in America."
At the largest social science repository for
research in the country, 50 researchers at ISR are
on the cutting edge of public opinion research.
"Over time, it has developed into a national labo-
ratory," Featherman said. "Data collections have
been systematically stored (at) the Library of
ISR is divided into three main branches: the
Center for Political Studies, the Center for Group
' Dynamics and the Survey Research Center.
Currently, ISR is comprised of 12 programs,
including the Undergraduate Research Opportunity
Program, which combines undergraduate student
researchers with expert researchers from the institu-
"Not only are Michigan students trained here,
every summer for the last several decades students
from all over the world spent eight weeks interning
in a classroom, using archives to learn how to do
research," Featherman said.
Ninety percent of the money for research at the
institution comes from federal grants and contracts.
With more than 1,000 researchers supported by fed-
eral grant money, the ISR is an anomaly at an oth-
erwise state-funded institution. Organizations like
the National Institute of Health and the National
Science Foundation play a significant role in sup-
porting the research conducted at ISR.
Survey Research Center
The Survey Research Center, the largest unit in
the Institute for Social Research, was established in
1946 by a group of government researchers who
moved to Ann Arbor. The SRC is responsible for
analyzing and collecting data on surveys.
The Survey Services Laboratory on the third floor
of the institute conducts telephone interviews on
consumer attitudes. At the same time, members of
the national field interview staff, comprised of pro-
fessional interviewers hired and trained by
University employees, travel across the country to
complete their research.
"As in any major kind of science, you need a
combination of infrastructure, human resources and
human capital," Jim House, director of SRC said.
"ISR allows University of Michigan to allow a crit-
ical mass to do large scale research."
SRC studies topics like drug use, poverty, health
in the workplace and economic behavior. The Panel
Study of Income Dynamics, which followed a
generic set of families from the 1960s to the pre-
sent, examines how households have adjusted to,
changes in the economy and how the economy is
shaped by household spending habits.
Psychiatry Prof. Randolph Nesse is spending six
months at the SRC to further research psychiatric
epidemiology, the incidence ofmental illness in var-
ious populations, and mold a revolutionary perspec-
tive on mental disorders.
"I am finding that my medical background makes
it possible to offer novel suggestions about data col-
lection such as salivary cortisol levels to measure
stress," Nesse said.
Nesse is looking for the up side to sadness. Nesse
is exploring the evolutionary origins and functions
of sadness and anxiety, and analyzing data from var-
ious groups to determine the benefits of experienc-
ing sadness.
SRC also provides opportunities for undergradu-
ate students to participate in groundbreaking
research. Tammy Meek, an LSA junior, spends
about 16 hours each week helping to administer the
phone surveys to collect data for the studies.
Meek said she finds the work to be enjoyable,
especially the chance to interact with a hodgepodge

Monitoring the Future

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The Monitoring the Future project, which began
in 1975, has grown into a nationally recognized study
in the changes in beliefs, attitudes and behavior of
young people in the United States. The study runs
the gamut of issues from government and politics to
gender roles and protection of the environment.
The MTF study is a large, complex project that
compiles a set of national surveys of 8th, 10th and
12th grade perceptions on a variety of topics.
Approximately 50,000 students in 420 secondary .
schools are surveyed each year.
McCaffrey stopped by the ISR building last sum-
mer to chat with Johnston about the study's find-
ings about drug abuse patterns. McCaffrey has used
parts of the Monitoring the Future study to help pol-
icy makers in Washington tackle drug abuse
throughout the country.
The White House Strategy on Drug Abuse fre-
quently utilizes the data MTF provides about trends
in substance abuse. Monitoring the Future conclud-
ed that drug us among young people was more
closely related to being aware of the risks of drug
abuse rather than the availability of the drug.
"It is incredibly important to know what kids are Meredith, a survey tec
thinking on drug issues because it will influence pub- for one of the institute
lic policy," Meek said. "It is significant in that it gives
policy members information to make decisions with."
Annual MTF updates are released at the National
Press Conference in Washington, D.C. Former pres- development of the Nationa
idents like George Bush have attended the confer- gram in 1948.
ence, while Ronald Reagan used the material for a In the 1960s, Warren Mill
Saturday radio address. In the past year, Secretary lish CPS, and counterparts
of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, who Converse and Allan Camp
heads the agency National Institute on Drug Use, called "The American Voter,
attended the conference to gain the latest insight into the tradition of studying t
teen-age drug use. Elections. The book studie
"Generally, Shalala and her predecessors have a dents through the year 1948.
high degree of faith in the findings," Program NES was designed to tra
Director Lloyd Johnston said. "She had concerns assess why a citizen decides
about what should be done with drug use and alco- candidate. Some of its w
hol use going up." social/psychological aspects
Johnston said the findings often prompt actions term role of party identificat
from the White House. Health and Human Services CPS also hosts the Inter-
released the White House Secret Initiative on for Social and Political Rese
Marijuana Prevention following a report of MTF tus as the largest archive of s
findings. The repository includes da
When McCaffrey
came to Ann Arbor
last summer, he
received a 90-minute ISR is a place
briefing on MTF
results and a 30- of cuttingedge
minute briefing on the ;r
National Survey of science.
Drug Trends.
"Barry McCaffery - David Featherman r
did not know a great Director of ISR
deal about the drug
field," Johnston said.
"He felt he had a lot to learn in showing drug use we provide the data for seni
among young people. He now feels very strongly sertations," said ICPSR Dire
that we have to control demand for drugs." "These data sets normally c
Johnston pointed out that he saw McCaffery on while the census costs billion
C-SPAN utilizing quotes from the MTF study. the student's hands to use."
"The subject matter has proven to be very impor- ICPSR also runs a trainin
tant," Johnston said. "The drug problem has been mer where 540 participants
taken seriously for the last 30 years. Drinking and 10 weeks during the summe
smoking are major issues." 45 advanced courses in analy
The survey also poses questions to students con- come to this program from
cerning their attitudes on the major institution of soci- and the cost for four weeks
ety, gender roles, race relations and delinquency. Zimmerman explained th
MTF researchers commenced their research with a CPS studies and the use oftr
survey of high school seniors. In 1991, 8th and 10th ate classrooms.
graders were added to the surveys after a request by "There are three choices.
the White House. This year, the MTF team will con- don't like the books, peop
duct its 23rd national survey of high school attitudes. they've written and people
The study has included data on college students forthcoming books," Zimme
since 1970 and MTF researchers will conduct their Despite varying attitudes
18th national survey of college students this year. in utilizing research, Zimmer


hnician at the Institute for Social Research works with data
's studies.


i Election Studies pro-
er, who helped to estab-
Donald Stokes, Phillip
bell published a book
" which stemmed from
he American National
d different U.S. presi-
ce voting patterns and
to vote for a particular
work focuses on the
of voting and the long-
University Consortium
arch, which claims sta-
ocial data in the world.
ta on social behavior,
health issues, public
opinion and govern-
ment data. Almost
370 universities pay
a fee to have access
to this data.
University students
can access the data
from the institute for
"For seniors and
graduate students,
ors' honor thesis or dis-
ector Richard Rockwell.
cost millions of dollars
s, but we put the data in
g program in the sum-
come to Ann Arbor for
r to take their choice of
ytical methods. Students
more than 25 countries
is approximately $400.
e relationship between
esearch in undergradu-
People who teach who
le who read the books
who tell you about their
rman said.
of University professors
man said he felt that the

the impact of the social environment on adolescents,
with an emphasis on gender issues. Eccles' three
broad longitudinal studies concentrate on kids from
1st grade to age 20.
Eccles emphasized the differences between the
Research Center for Group Dynamics and the other
two branches of ISR.
"There is much less contract research at RCGD,"
Eccles said. "Group dynamics research has social sci-
entists as principal investigators developing some
question and attempting to find the answer as opposed
to responding to a request from a specific agency."
Eccles, who received the LSA Special Award for
Outstanding Research in 1995 and the Sarah
Goddard Power Award for Outstanding Service in
1988, said she appreciates the opportunities offered
to her at the ISR.
"They've provided me with space and intellectu-
al stimulation," Eccles. said. "They facilitate the
process by having in place.
RCGD Director James Jackson initiated the
Program for Research on Black Americans to study
the nature of African American life. The program stud-
ies mental health, aging and development; inter-colle-
giate athletics and gender roles of African Americans.
"After 20 years, it's the only program dedicated
to collecting empirical data on African Americans,"
Jackson said.
The program puts out a short journal on African
American people designed for policy makers. The
journal contains a number of short five-page articles
and is sent to members of Congress in order to show
them the pressing issues for African Americans.
"ISR has a concern with real responsibility for
practical aspects of human behavior in life," Jackson
said. "We study African American social problems."
The State of Research
The ISR and the National Opinion Research
Center at the University of Chicago are the domi-
nant social science research institutions in the
United States. Schools like the University of
California at Los Angeles and Temple University
have notable research centers, but they are consid-
erably smaller than ISR, Featherman said.
One of the biggest concerns for ISR is whether
the government will continue to support social sci-
ence research. Featherman closely follows the annu-
al federal budget and the impact of the long-term
financial forecasts.
"ISR would suffer greatly were the federal gov-
ernment to invest less in past in university-based
civilian research and development. If the National
Science Foundation budget is slashed, the ISR
would suffer greatly," Featherman said.
Featherman expressed disappointment in the
level of support from the federal government for
social science research.
"It's getting less than what the country needs,"
Featherman said. "Investing in higher education
and civil research has multiple effects for the growth
of the economy. It is imprudent to reduce federal
grants for research."
Zimmerman, who teaches courses in Russian pol-
itics, echoed similar concerns about the money
being devoted to research. He said the federal gov-
ernment tends to de-value the state of social sci-
ences and concentrate its funding on social welfare,


Center for Political Studies
The Center for Political Studies, headed by
Director William Zimmerman, originated with the



students definitely benefit from the latest research.
"In the social science courses at (the University),
you are getting the best research in the country,"
Zimmerman said. "Sociology, political science, and
economics are ranked in the top five departments
and a lot of it has to do with the existence of ISR."
Center for Group Dynamics
Kurt Lewin fled from Nazi Germany during
World War II and relocated to the University of
Iowa. Lewin later studied at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and arrived at the University
in 1947. He formed the Research Center on Group
Dynamics, which joined the Survey Research
Center in 1949 to form the early version of the
Institute for Social Research.
The Center for Group Dynamics has undergone



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