The MassINC Polling Group will work with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at The University of Chicago to hold a conference on survey data fabrication in 2016. The work will be funded through a grant awarded to NORC and MPG from the US Department of Health and Human Services. This conference funding is the latest in a string of recent developments in MPG’s expanding focus on addressing data fabrication in survey research.

Data fabrication occurs when data is faked rather than collected from actual respondents. This can happen anywhere in the chain of data collection and processing. Preventing and detecting fabrication is a challenge for organizations of all sizes and budgets, and one very much in need of further attention. Data fabrication has been revealed in recent surveys sponsored by major U.S. research universities and government agencies. When it does happen, it threatens the integrity of the research process and the reliability of the results.

“Recent papers and research have shown the threat of data fabrication remains real, particularly in remote and hard-to-reach areas,” said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group. “Survey data is used by leaders in business and in government. They need to be able to count on the integrity of the data. And survey respondents need to have their voices heard clearly, without the distortion of fabrication.”

Koczela was recently appointed as an Associate Editor for the Statistical Journal of the International Association of Official Statistics to focus on data fabrication. He has also written extensively on the issue and presented at several recent conferences. His article “Curbstoning and Beyond: Confronting Data Fabrication in Survey Research” is due out in the IAOS journal in September. During his 2014-15 NEAAPOR presidency, the organization held a half-day mini-conference on fabrication with speakers from the Department of State, RTI International, and the University of Michigan.

Details of the upcoming conferences will be announced later this year. The final date is yet to be determined.