Council Minutes
November 1999


General Council Minutes

Discussion of the SSRC Conference--Saturday, November 20, 1999

A brief overview was given of the Russell Sage Foundation/Social Science Research Council (SSRC) conference on infrastructure needs of the social sciences, which was held the previous week in New York City. Members of Council and staff who participated in the conference included Gary King, Stephen Fienberg, Richard Rockwell, and Hal Winsborough. Ann Green (Yale University), an incoming Council member, also participated.

The four main sessions of the conference focused on:

  • New types of data that need to be dealt with in the social sciences

  • The current status of the social sciences and its infrastructure and what we are doing now

  • Funding, the user community, and the economics of information

  • Problems and possible solutions/next steps

In terms of new types of data, interesting presentations were given on unusual data types, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data and recordings of street sounds. While the social sciences have traditionally dealt almost exclusively with numbers, we now have text, pictures, video, and biologic samples that have been captured digitally. These new forms of data require new methods for working with them, and we need to begin to think differently about how to handle them.

Regarding what we are doing now in the social sciences, conference presentations focused on the major infrastructural elements currently in place. Richard Rockwell spoke about ICPSR in this context; other speakers included representatives from Statistics Canada, the Census Enclaves, and the U-M Health and Retirement Study. In the session on funding, there were presentations from Richard Suzman (NIA), Bill Bainbridge (NSF), Cathy Wallman, and others.

The final session concerned next steps and who should play what types of roles in the future. NSF is providing less funding for data collection, and this needs to be addressed in some public way. Also, those working on ongoing longitudinal studies are under pressure to change research modes in order to obtain more funding, and it may be difficult for these studies to survive. Concern about privacy and disclosure was another theme of this session.

One of the conclusions of the conference was that we need some kind of forum involving all organizations that have a stake in social science research, including funders, users, and archives, and we need to get on the agendas of people who matter. Some organization has to convene this next group and obtain funding to finance the meeting.

Report on the Miller Project--Sunday, November 21, 1999

Patrick Shields, ISR Development Officer, reported on recent progress in establishing a commemorative fund for Warren Miller. A year ago, Council met and indicated that it wanted to do something in Warren's name, and Patrick spoke with Ruth Jones, Warren's wife, about this matter at Warren's memorial service last spring. Ruth is interested in setting up a Miller Scholars Fund that would provide Summer Program funding for excellent young social scientists embarking on their careers. Ruth hopes that the funds contributed in Warren's name can be used in a unifying way, to combine various aspects of Warren's broad professional life.

After undertaking a feasibility study, Shields believes that a $100,000 endowment collected through pledges over three to five years is a reasonable, achievable goal for the Miller Fund. Associate Director Heinz Eulau (Stanford University) thinks the campaign is likely to be more successful if it is carried out under the auspices of ICPSR, rather than ISR/U-M.

The $100,000 endowment would provide stipends of $5,000 to three to five students each summer to encourage their participation in the Summer Program. Some thought needs to be given to what we can do to make the summer experience special. We might assign mentors and hold dinners to promote cohort-building.

Merrill Shanks (University of California, Berkeley) has agreed to chair the Miller Scholars committee, and it is hoped that Heinz will serve as honorary co-chair. Committee members will represent different facets of Warren's career and will make the personal outreach to potential donors. The American Political Science Association (APSA) is also establishing a scholars fund for research on electoral behavior; they have raised $25,000 so far.

Shields will work with ICPSR to develop a list of names of people who worked with Warren and to get those names into a database. ICPSR will provide clerical support.

ICPSR 40th Anniversary

The 40th anniversary of ICPSR will occur in 2002, and we need to start planning now for the event. Current thinking is that we will hold a meeting at which researchers will read papers they have written based on research using ICPSR data collections; a book will be published as well. Thus, the output of the meeting will be illustrative of the fundamental product that ICPSR produces. The papers may draw on the 50 years of observations now at the disposal of social scientists and may describe the incisive findings that have come out of the archives of the world during this period.

Hal Winsborough Stepping Down

Hal announced that he has decided to step down as chair of the Council in order to facilitate the search for a new ICPSR Director. Margo Anderson, the new Council chair, has agreed to begin her duties early to fill in for Hal. Hal thanked the Council and staff for their help and support throughout his four-year term.

Archival Development Committee Minutes

Present: Anderson (co-chair), Stephenson (co-chair) by speaker phone from Los Angeles, Betsey, Austin, Allen, Granda

The Committee discussed the following items on Friday afternoon, November 19 and provided a summary of its discussions and decisions to the full Council later that same day:

  1. Archival Acquisitions Policy: Margo Anderson, Committee Co-chair, reviewed the current status of the policy and, in particular, the final session at the meeting of ICPSR Official Representatives in October during which the interim policy was discussed. The Committee emphasized the following aspects of the policy at this point: there has been and is long-standing Council support for such a policy, the general thrust of the policy has so far received wide acceptance, and one of its most important features is the commitment to long-term preservation of social science data and documentation. The Committee remarked that two key questions still require further thought: 1) what kind of data will be archived and 2) how to introduce and implement a policy of 'proactive' data acquisition? The Committee recommended that new resources be made available from the ICPSR reserve account for these and possibly other new initiatives that may result from the implementation of this policy. The Committee also recommended a final editing review to word all recommendations and suggestions as positive statements and to emphasize that a full review of the policy should occur every five years. Libbie Stephenson and Ed Nelson will make final changes to the statement after final input from Official Representatives and submit the document to the full Council at its March meeting.

  2. 2000 Census Advisory Committee: Council had already approved the establishment of this advisory committee in its June meeting. The Archival Development Committee recommended that staffing suggestions be forwarded to the co-chairs as soon as possible for 4-5 members from member institutions as well as a member from the Census Bureau. The Committee also requested that the Council approve travel funds for the advisory committee. The Committee further recommended that the advisory committee be appointed and hold its initial meeting as early in the year 2000 as possible. The full Council approved the expenditure of travel funds for the advisory committee and asked that the committee pay particular attention to the issue of acquisition: the designation of specific files that would be permanently archived at ICPSR.

  3. Exploring the Acquisition/Purchase of Economic Data: The Committee instructed staff to explore the kinds of economic datasets that may be of interest to members and evaluate the costs and benefits of acquiring these datasets.

  4. Requests for Redistribution of ICPSR Data: The Committee approved two redistribution requests:

    1. The Polis Center at Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis for inclusion of data from ICPSR Study 0008: Censuses of Religious Bodies, 1906-1936 in a project entitled the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative. The project is currently in the proposal submission phase and seeks permission to place this ICPSR data collection on their website should they obtain sufficient funding.

    2. The Harvard University Film Studies Center for inclusion of data from ICPSR Study 7734: Massachusetts Tax Evaluation Records, 1771 on its experimental website about historical research using primary sources.

The Committee requested additional information for a request by the Geolytics, Inc., a private firm that wants to use 1970 Census Data files, stored at ICPSR, to produce CD-ROM products that integrate private and other government data with statistical and mapping tools.

Policy and Planning Committee Minutes

Current funding/status of various ICPSR projects, reported by Richard.

  • ICPSR is now starting to staff for the NSF grant.

  • We have a new grant, "DDI-2" now in at NSF. This is designed to begin the documentation process at the beginning of a given data collection effort, with the documentation being integrated into the whole effort. This would be a three-year grant that is essentially an extension of DDI. Due to the high expense of the grant, our chances of winning are probably not good.

  • The SAMHDA contract was extended until April 30, 2000.

  • The BJS project officer insisted on some restraints on our current contract with them. The University signed the contract but some of the restraints are onerous to implement. For example, BJS wants ICPSR to abide by the travel policy of the federal government rather than that of the University. This shifts some travel cost to individual employees. BJS has also required monthly rather than quarterly billing.

  • The NACDA grant was renewed for three years. ICPSR needs to develop empirical evidence that the research community benefits from NACDA and that it enables significant research to be done. Jim is working on this now by reviewing relevant journals. Hal suggested that he also look at grant proposals.

  • The IAED has been funded by NCES through ESSI, which has collected 15 percent off the top to manage the contract. ICPSR will now have a direct cooperative agreement with NCES for the IAED.

  • We have a two-year grant from Robert Wood Johnson for the health behaviors archive. This is managed by Erik.

  • There's the possibility of our responding to a new RFP by NSF but we are probably not cutting edge enough (due to the diversity of our constituents) to win.

Facilities issues

There was an attempted break-in last night at the Border's building. The U-M and Ann Arbor police took several minutes to decide who should respond to the call. This is a problem that we will follow-up on.

A purchase order for a humidifier just went in. There was a great deal of red tape due to University and the plant department procedures. We got bids and coordinated with the University. Part of the problem was determining whether or not the building has zones and if so, how many (e.g., one for each floor). ISR will pay for half of the humidifier. ICPSR is scheduled to pay the other half, but will try to get PSC and SCUP to also help. The total cost is $44,000. Boone and Darr will install the humidifier.

ICPSR plans to update quotes on the air curtain for the front doors and also to get quotes on changing the ducts. We are hoping to get these quotes soon. It was noted that we should also look into an air filtration system.

The radon abatement was apparently successful.

The Perry Building will be remodeled; it has 28,000 square feet. ISR is now drawing plans for the building. When the remodeling is completed, the current plan is for PSC to move into the ISR and for DST to be consolidated in the Perry Building. This will leave about 10,000 square feet of "surge" space for the ISR in the Perry Building.

The Perry Building is surrounded on three sides by surface parking. ISR would like to put an addition of as much as 40,000 square feet onto the building. The State of Michigan would have to sign off on this, but this should not be a problem (per John).

The ISR budget has gone from about $32 million to over $50 million, thus necessitating this additional space.

The current thinking is to continue leasing the Border's building and leave ICPSR there. Hal asked why we couldn't move and John and Richard replied that no one else would now want to move there due to the problems with the building. However, one bonus to our moving to the Perry building would be that connectivity would be much easier and much less expensive to the ISR. The Perry School is on a main fiberoptic line and being on this line would save the ISR the expense of paying for a T3 line for us as long as we are in the Border's building.

The Perry School remodel is planned to begin by June, 2000, with occupancy to begin in September, 2001. Plans for the addition are hoped to begin right away with occupancy in Fall, 2002.

The ISR lease with Border's is for 4 or 5 years total. We now occupy about 16,000 square feet.

Summer Program Space

Hank and Peggy Norgren met with senior university plant people, who said they didn't know how they could help. The provost then got involved. There is still no resolution for this coming year. It is likely to be the same as 1999 (i.e., primarily in ICPSR space).

Hal raised the possibility of issuing an RFP for hosting the summer program. We would need to decide by the March, 2000 meeting whether or not to issue the RFP. Would need to know something for certain from the U-M by then. Discussed pluses and minuses of housing the program in Helen Newberry.

It may be beneficial to have a general review of the summer program. Some in the ISR are not satisfied with the offerings. Discussed what is entailed in the annual review done by the summer program advisory committee (mission and offerings?). Basic classes maybe just that, but they provide the bulk of financial support for the program. The summer program is about 14 percent of the budget but provides about $600K in dues.

Discussion of costs of summer program. Per Richard, 2/3 of summer program budget is recovered. Part of cost is the subsidy to members.

Miller Project report

Per Hal, Patrick Shields will be on hand to talk about the Miller Project on Sunday morning. Warren thought that project was being poorly handled at ISR and that ICPSR should handle it. Warren thought that fellowships were not an acceptable way to spend the money. Less money will be raised if the requests come out of U-M and ISR than if they come from ICPSR. If plea came through ICPSR and were closer to those being asked, more would be raised. Hal told Heinz that he thought ICSPR would lend its name if that's what is called for. Patrick called Hal. He (Patrick) thinks there's less money to be raised than originally thought. It was hard to find a chair and oversight committee. Patrick seems to agree it should be under the ICPSR aegis.

Fellowships could be used for the SRC and ICSPR summer programs, as well as others.

Our primary concern should be that the project is honorific to Warren and we should help the project come off as well as possible.

There's also a complaint by Heinz that it would be better to do an annual appeal. Patrick thinks it's better to do the appeal(s) quickly, over a period of just a few years.

Huey suggested that we incorporate the appeal into an ICPSR 40th anniversary celebration.

40th anniversary celebration

Will have been in business 40 years in 2002. Virtues of holding a celebration need to be high because the cost of doing so is also high (i.e., level of effort). We could use the opportunity to kick off an endowment campaign, raise money from donations, foundations, rich alums. This could be used for summer programs fellowships, as one example.

To replace membership dues, need to raise $60-75 million, per Richard.

Issue was raised as to whether an endowment would mean that no one else would fund us (e.g., NSF). The consensus, however, was the opposite, that "money follows money."

Another possible source of endowment would be a one-time congressional appropriation. The U-M opposes this, in general, however.

Discussion regarding whether ICPSR is "on" or "off" the ISR books. This relates to the University's growth tax.

What to do for 40th anniversary celebration, if one is held?

  1. Celebration

  2. Convocation/papers using ICPSR materials; then organize and publish a book. ISR did this. Per Richard, the book is best used as a reference.

A better idea might be to have sessions regarding what has happened intellectually as a result of increased data and availability in the last 40 years. What have we learned in different areas as a result of the increased availability of data?

We could tie together the 40th anniversary with the idea of a "high powered" conference originally considered for the Miller Project. Also include "what is there yet to learn" (new varieties of data, etc.).

Member Relations Committee Minutes

Members present: Zack Allen, Diane Geraci, Hank Heitowit, Mary Morris, Huey Perry, Mary Vardigan, and Wendy Watkins. Janet Vavra joined the committee for part of the meeting.

  1. Evaluation of October 1999 Meeting of Official Representative. Informal feedback about the OR meeting has been overwhelmingly positive; an evaluation form will be mailed to all ORs in the near future. Suggestions for the next meeting include devoting at least a half-day to an orientation session for new ORs, stationing staff from the topical archives in the computer demonstration lab, and increasing attendance at the Business Meeting by combining it with other sessions or scheduling it earlier in the agenda.

  2. End-user Survey. An end-user survey will provide ICPSR with information about user data needs and the extent to which ICPSR fulfills those needs. Taking into account geographic location, size of school and amount of ordering activity, Heitowit selected ten schools as participants in the end-user survey. The ORs at those schools have been asked to supply a list of end-users; those users will then be surveyed.

  3. Membership Drops and Adds. Michelle Humphres was introduced as the Membership Coordinator, replacing Cindy Folsom who resigned. The list of drop and adds was reviewed; more schools have joined the Consortium within the last few months than have left the Consortium, and talks are currently ongoing with a number of schools interested in membership.

    The issue of member recruitment and retention was discussed. An offer to visit member schools to shore up support for ICPSR membership was extended during the OR meeting and three or four ORs responded. Heitowit has identified staff for these visits and Geraci and Perry again suggested utilizing ORs and Council members in such visits, depending on location. The need for a dedicated budget and staff is necessary if outreach is to become a component of membership activities.

    The planned redesign of the ICPSR website will include a section for ORs. The committee suggested including tutorials, web links, and other information that could aid ORs in their jobs. The possibility of pairing up new ORs with experienced ORs was also raised as a training method for new ORs.

  4. Non-academic Affiliations. Nonmembers have access to most ICPSR studies on a per study fee basis. The fee varies from study to study and depends on the size of the files and the extent of ICPSR processing. A number of inquiries of late prompted Heitowit to propose offering these nonacademic organizations, primarily government agencies and nonprofit organizations, membership. After much discussion the committee decided the annual fee would be the Category A fee plus 20%. [The full Council subsequently approved a $15, 000 annual fee.] The organization would then have the choice of membership or purchasing data on a case-by-case basis. However, if an organization purchased one or two studies and then wished to apply for a membership within that same year, the cost of the individual purchases would be applied toward the membership fee. These organizations would not have voting rights. The committee proposed this fee structure for a period of one year, with a review at the end of that time.

  5. Freely Available Data and Its Impact on Membership. The number of ICPSR titles freely available has held steady at around 20% of the total holdings for the past few years. Although a few schools have dropped after indicating that they can now obtain data they need for free, the provision of the freely available data has minimally impacted membership numbers. The New Acquisitions Preservation Archive (NAPA), which releases minimally processed, member-only data, has helped the growth of the general archive.

    Statistics on the free downloading can actually work to ICPSR's advantage by providing ORs with information about who is downloading. That information can be used locally to lobby for retention of membership and for identifying possible funding sources. ICPSR can also use the statistics for marketing purposes in that ICPSR can contact heavy nonmember academic users to explain the full extent of our holdings and the benefits of membership.

  6. Federation Issues. The issue of an individual member school joining a federation was presented. The premise for federations is that these schools would not have the resources to join as individual members. That not being the case in this situation, the committee decided that no discount would be granted if the school joins the federation unless the federation brings in additional schools that are not currently members.

    The topic of the algorithm for federations will be on the agenda for the next Council session. If there are federation formation issues in the interim, the staff could seek advice from Council via email.

  7. Future Role of the Committee. Watkins, who has been on the committee for four years, will issue a report providing a historical perspective for the next committee. The issues of recruitment/retention efforts, federation fees and formation, and nonacademic member fees will carry over to the next committee.

Quantitative Research and Training Committee Minutes

The Committee reviewed the recommendations from the Summer Program Advisory Committee which met earlier in the day. Modest changes were proposed in the curriculum for the year 2000 Program, specifically related to offerings in the areas of Event History Analysis, Dynamic Modeling, and a possible new course on "Modern Approaches to Regression Methods." This last workshop would be a compliment to the standard Regression courses and would cover such recent topic areas as non-parametric regression, robust regression, the geometry of (coordinate free) regression, and regression graphics.

The Committee spent some time discussing the need for the University of Michigan to find a suitable home base for the Program.

The Committee recommended that the full Council approve a modest fee increase for the 2000 Program.

Finally the Committee discussed various ideas for ICPSR sponsorship of "advanced level conferences" in the general area of research methodology. Possible future topics suggested included: GIS and spatial analysis, dynamic modeling, agent based/adaptive modeling, clustered data, comparative/cross national analysis, and bayesian modeling.

Notes of Council discussion of the report of the Quantitative Research and Training Committee.

Bollen reported to the full Council a summary of the Committee's discussions of the above items.

After a lengthy interchange on the size of the increase in Summer Program fees, a $50 across the board fee increase was approved by Council for the 2000 Program.

Council also expressed its concern with the process and pace at the University of Michigan for finding an adequate facility to house the Summer Program.

Finally there was a long discussion about the curriculum of the Summer Program. Some members of Council questioned the continuing need to offer courses at the lower/introductory level. In general it was concluded that it would be useful for an external review committee to be convened sometime in the future to thoroughly evaluate the Program curriculum.

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