Institute for Social Research cuts ribbon on new digs

York’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) has some sparkling new digs. On March 26, more than 150 invited guests attended an open house to celebrate ISR’s new location in the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building on the Keele campus.



Above: Left to right, York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden; Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation (seated); David Northrup, ISR associate director, and ISR Director Michael Ornstein

“Our new premises include 20 offices, three telephone survey labs, a mail survey facility, meeting rooms, including space for conducting focus groups in-house, an interviewer break room and a reception area,” said David Northrup, ISR associate director “The modern, clean-lined space creates an open, inviting and collegial atmosphere. The use of natural light was important in the design of the new premises and this is reflected in the large office windows that open and close, the use of glass walls, and a large open area that allows light into the central core of ISR.”

In marking the opening of the 7,000-sq.-ft. space, York Vice-President Research & Innovation Stan Shapson said, “ISR is an important part of our strategic research plan undertaking research that is interdisciplinary, collaborative, and highly relevant. ISR’s research has an impact on society, government, and industry through its focus on evidence-based data as a tool for important decision-making.”

ISR was created by York in 1965 as a resource for researchers outside the usual framework built around departments. “Our original mandate emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to social research,” said Northrup. “This has continued to the present day.”

The institute’s purpose is to promote, undertake and critically evaluate applied social research. ISR provides consultation and support services to members of the University community conducting research primarily in the social sciences but also in the biological and physical sciences. For researchers from other universities, government agencies, public organizations and the private sector, ISR conducts research projects, provides consultation on research design, and undertakes data collection and statistical analysis on a fee-for-service basis.

Last year, prior to moving to TEL, ISR had 34 interviewing stations for telephone surveys and conducted approximately 60,000 telephone interviews across 15 major large-scale studies as well as many smaller ones. At TEL, ISR now has 60 interviewing stations divided among three telephone survey labs. These labs have separate supervisory areas and interviewers are continuously monitored on a rotating basis in order to maintain interview quality and standardization. There is also a separate room where visiting clients and principal investigators can monitor their surveys in progress. “The new premises will allow ISR’s research capabilities to expand and its Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) facilities to grow,” said Northrup

More about ISR

The Institute, with close to 40 years of experience in social science, public opinion and policy research, houses the largest university-based survey research unit in Canada. Every year, ISR conducts more than 40 research projects at local, provincial and national levels in such areas as health, education, political attitudes, social change, alcohol and tobacco control, the environment, law, medical services, quality of life, and other social issues. ISR also carries out on-going studies on behalf of the University administration including academic program reviews and other program evaluations. Institute staff have expertise in all stages of applied social research from questionnaire and sample design through data collection and file preparation to analysis, both statistical and qualitative, and report writing.

ISR conducts regular seminars in social research methods including questionnaire and sample design, the implementation of mail and telephone surveys, data analysis, focus groups and interpreting qualitative data. ISR’s Statistical Consulting Service (SCS) provides consultation to faculty and graduate students on research design and statistical analysis. SCS also sponsors short courses on statistical analysis, research methodology and the use of statistical software. Survey data collected at the Institute are archived and are available for secondary analysis and teaching.

Both current and past research are described on ISR‘s Web site which also provides information about available services and staff.