History of ISR

ISR celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a Conference on October 30, 2015. Click to view Full Program or Conference Photos.

50 years of excellence in conducting applied and academic research

Established in 1965, with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research as its model, the operations of the Institute for Social Research at York University are currently undertaken through two sections of the organization, the Survey Research Centre (SRC) and the Statistical Consulting Service (SCS). The SRC has over time built a reputation for high-quality surveys, which are conducted primarily through computer-assisted telephone interviews, web-based self-administered surveys, focus groups, in-class surveys, and mail-in surveys. The Institute for Social Research has three telephone interview labs on the fifth floor of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building on the Keele Campus. The SCS serves York University researchers by providing assistance in research design, sampling and weighting of data, data collection, data analysis, statistical computing, and offering short courses and workshops in statistical computing and data analytic methods.

1965
The Institute was established by the Senate of York University.

1967
The Institute’s publication series was well underway and its first conference, focusing on the “Theory of Organization,” was held.

1968
The Institute’s Survey Research Centre established a field staff and a sampling frame for the Province of Ontario, and its very first project was a survey of political attitudes of Ontario voters.

1970
An accredited course in survey research methods was offered in conjunction with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

1971
The Data Analysis Section, renamed the Methods and Analysis Section, provided support to researchers with basic data processing and analysis services. One of the Institute’s largest early studies was the Social Change in Canada project, also known as the Quality of Life study.

1977 to 1981
This project involved more than 6,000 interviews which measured change in Canadians’ attitudes and values over time. Most studies during these early years were carried out using face-to-face interviews or mail surveys.

1980 – present
ISR conducts the Canadian National Election Study whenever there is a federal election.

1983
ISR’s Statistical Consulting Service (SCS) opens. Through this Service, a group of faculty and full-time staff provide consultation on a broad range of statistical problems, the use of computers for statistical analysis, and the presentation of statistical material.

1984
IBR (known as the Institute for Behavioural Research) is renamed as ‘Institute for Social Research’ for the broadly interdisciplinary work being carried out at the Institute.

1986
ISR first implements CASES Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system which allows interviewers to enter respondents’ answers directly into a computer as they conduct interviews. This technology has revolutionized survey data collection by eliminating the data entry stage, increasing data security and confidentiality, and making data readily available for analysis.

Mid-1990s
ISR began using qualitative research methods and expands its services to provide expertise in in-depth interviews with key informants and focus groups

1991
The Institute has also presented a Spring Seminar Series in both quantitative and qualitative social research methods. During the past three years, ISR’s Summer Programme in Data Analysis (SPIDA) has provided a two-week series of intensive courses designed to train social researchers to analyze complex surveys such as Statistics Canada’s longitudinal surveys.

1996-present
ISR conducts on an on-going basis include the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Drug Monitor (begun in 1996)

1999-present
ISR conducts on an on-going basis include the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) study for Ontario’s public health units

2001-2011
ISR conducts an annual Summer Programme in Data Analysis (SPIDA) to help train Canadian graduate students, professors and other researchers in important quantitative social research methods such as Generalized Linear Models (GLM), Mixed Models, and Structural Equation Models (SEM).

2004
ISR moves to a new TEL building and expands level of services that can now be offered to the research community.

2015
ISR celebrated its 50th Anniversary on October 30, 2015. Click to view Full Program or Conference Photos.

2016
ISR co-hosted a Public Lecture: Racial Profiling on February 16, 2016, 7-9pm.