COMPASS seminars 2019

Our seminar series for 2019 runs 1–2pm on Fridays in Room 107 of the Fale Pasifika complex (273-107). All are welcome to attend!

A Probabilistic Online Panel for New Zealand (POPNZ)

Dr Lara Greaves

3 May 2019

Currently, all of the online panels in New Zealand are commercially run and consist of convenience samples. In 2017, our interdisciplinary research group (including COMPASS and the Public Policy Institute) began to investigate the feasibility of creating a Probabilistic Online Panel for New Zealand (POPNZ). With POPNZ we aim to create a survey panel service that academics, government, and other appropriately qualified researchers conducting public good research can utilise to understand the opinions of a representative panel of New Zealanders. However, this has not been without its challenges as POPNZ is now at the pilot testing and development phase.

This seminar presents an overview of the POPNZ project including the rationale for starting POPNZ and the issues with sampling that we have faced along the way including the ability to access an appropriate, yet cost effective, sample frame. We also report on our consultation phase, the dismal failure of our first pilot study, progress on our second pilot study, and our proposed online panel methods including how we plan to incorporate the offline population and attempts to include Kaupapa Māori-inspired survey methods into the design of the panel.

The purpose of the seminar is to provide an update on the project, but I will also explore the broader theme of the issues in survey research in Aotearoa, and would love to hear your feedback on the panel.

Lara Greaves is a lecturer in New Zealand Politics and Public Policy at the University of Auckland. She studies politics, sex, ethnicity, and, most excitingly, surveys.

Academic Librarians as Agents of Administrative Control: Biometrics, altmetrics, and the scholarly communication system

Mandy Henk

12 April 2019 

Librarians are increasingly being called upon by their institutions to support personnel and departmental review processes, by using our expertise and the products offered by traditional library vendors to gather and share various kinds of bibliometric data. Ranging from traditional citation analysis to the calculation of the so-called H-Index, libraries are playing a new role within the university by offering these services.

As service-based organisations whose efforts have traditionally been directly geared toward supporting the research and student learning processes, this kind of service moves libraries into a new political role within the academy.

This talk will examine first what bibliometrics are and how they are calculated. From there we will examine the political economy of this market and how the data used in the various calculations are gathered and managed. An exploration of Scopus and Web of Science and their governance and transparency track record will then lead into questions about the validity of these kinds of analysis and their limitations, especially outside of STEM fields. From there a critical analysis of these services and their lived impact on library users will be developed.

Mandy Henk is a librarian who is currently running a small NGO focused on building an equitable information system, Tohatoha Aotearoa Commons. She writes about libraries, technology, and resisting power.

SociaLab: A census-based simulation tool for public policy inquiry

Professor Peter Davis
Roy Lay-Yee

5 April 2019

It is usually neither practical nor ethical to conduct large-scale experiments in public policy with standard methodologies. One alternative for the ex-ante testing of policy options is to use simulation, a prime contemporary example being climate change projections. A tool – SociaLab – was developed for the counterfactual modelling of public policy drawing on longitudinal data from the New Zealand census and using microsimulation techniques.

SociaLab potentially provides an open-source tool for deliberative inquiry in policy development. It has now been fully written up in Simulating Societal Change, co-authored with Roy Lay-Yee, and published by Springer in the series Computational Social Sciences.

Peter Davis is Honorary Professor in the Department of Statistics and Emeritus Professor in Population Health and Social Science at the University of Auckland. Earlier in his career, he was the founding director of the Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and before that a health and applied sociologist in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Topical health issues in New Zealand: Findings from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study

Carol Lee

29 March 2019

Vaccine hesitancy and antibiotic resistance are two major public health concerns. There is also continuous debate surrounding the legalisation of euthanasia. However, population attitudes towards these topical health issues are understudied in New Zealand. To fill this gap in research, we use data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study to investigate the:

1. Level of support for euthanasia, vaccinations and feelings of entitlement to antibiotics among the general population.

2. Demographic and personality correlates of New Zealanders’ health attitudes.

3. Degree of vaccine confidence among different classes of health professionals.

Our findings increase insight into New Zealanders’ perception of various health issues and identify important group differences in health attitudes.

Carol Lee is a PhD student in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Her research focuses on inequalities in health and New Zealanders’ attitudes towards various health issues.

A minute of silence

22 March 2019

Our seminar for this week was cancelled after it was announced that the University would host a Muslim prayer session and observe a minute's silence during this time slot, in solidarity with New Zealand's Muslim communities after the attacks on mosques in Christchurch. 

Update on COMPASS activities: NZSSN courses, surveys, data archiving

Martin von Randow

15 March 2019

COMPASS has been running short courses under the guise of the New Zealand Social Statistics Network (NZSSN) for 15 years. I will discuss our most recent experiences and latest courses, as well as marketing travails and the future.

We set up the New Zealand Social Science Data Service 12 years ago, with the New Zealand Election Study, the International Social Survey Programme for New Zealand, and other projects close to COMPASS. These days that takes the form of some static pages on the University’s Figshare repository, but it is not the best equipped to handle extensive metadata.

The Australian Data Archive (ADA) uses Dataverse, which we actually had a summer student look into in 2012, and has offered to curate our survey holdings there. They have also impressively brought the conference of the International Association of Social Science Information Systems & Technology (IASSIST) to Sydney this year!

We took over New Zealand’s efforts for the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in 2013, and are just wrapping up the latest module on religion. I will discuss funding challenges, sampling adventures, and the use of these data sets, including in our own teaching.

And finally, I will talk about our new website and its handling of all of this. It should be fun!

Martin von Randow has been Data Manager/Analyst at COMPASS Research Centre since before it was even called that, early 2005. He is responsible for these “extra” activities there, and is involved in software teaching for research methods as part of the Masters of Public Policy.

Societal attitudes towards women's reproductive autonomy: Findings from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study

Yanshu Huang

8 March 2019

Although New Zealand has historically been on the forefront of women's rights, gender inequity across various domains continues to endure. However, in recent years, the topic of reproductive rights has received elevated attention, both nationally and globally. To these ends, we investigated New Zealanders' perceptions of women's reproductive autonomy.

Specifically, we examined how the endorsement of sexist attitudes may affect attitudes toward two areas of women’s reproductive experiences:

  • Attitudes toward abortion
  • Attitudes toward breastfeeding in public

Analyses were conducted using data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a large national longitudinal panel sample of New Zealand adults. Our results suggest that although attitudes toward gender roles are shifting toward increasingly egalitarian views, sexism nonetheless continues to affect public support for women’s reproductive autonomy in New Zealand.

Yanshu Huang is a doctoral candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the interface between gender role ideologies and attitudes toward women’s reproductive autonomy.

Modelling ecological contextual data in the social sciences

Professor Todd Little

1 March 2019

Professor Todd Little is visiting the University of Auckland, co-hosted through the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and us at COMPASS. He kicks off our 2019 seminar series with a discussion around modern methods of data collection, data management, and advanced statistical analyses.

Todd Little is a Professor and Director of the Research, Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics programme at Texas Tech University (TTU). He is internationally recognised for his quantitative work on various aspects of applied Structural Equation Modelling and his substantive developmental research. Earlier, Todd guided quantitative training at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development’s Centre for Lifespan Studies, Yale University’s Department of Psychology, and researchers at the University of Kansas.

Todd founded, and organises and teaches in the internationally renowned ‘Stats Camps’ each June (see and has given hundreds of workshops and talks on methodology topics around the world. He has published internationally in more than 70 peer-reviewed journals, and participated in the development of more than 10 different measurement tools, including CAMI, Multi-CAM, BALES, BISC, I FEEL, and the form/function decomposition of aggression.