Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » About Us » History of ISR

History of ISR

ISR celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a Conference on October 30, 2015.
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.

The Institute was established by the Senate of York University.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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).

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

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

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

ISR co-hosted Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) short courses, Longitudinal and Multilevel Data in R and Stan
May 28 to June 1, 2018 by John Fox, and Georges Monette
Sponsored and organized by ICPSR, University of Michigan and held at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Course description: