IPUMS FAQ: What are Virtual Office Hours?

by Amy Grotsun and Kari Williams

FAQ in speech bubbleWhile scrolling through an IPUMS email or checking up on the latest IPUMS tweets you may have read about IPUMS Virtual Office Hours. You also probably wondered, “What even are virtual office hours?” Today we are here to answer that question.

In the wake of canceled conferences during spring of 2020, IPUMS wanted to create an opportunity to connect with data users about questions they might have when using the data–the kind of thing you might pop by the exhibit hall booth to ask. We found that we connected with virtual conference attendees as expected, but many other IPUMS data users as well. As in-person conferences resume, we will continue to host virtual office hours quarterly so we can continue connecting with a broad range of IPUMS users.

How do virtual office hours work?

Virtual office hours are free and open to all IPUMS users (or potential IPUMS users). The only requirement is that you register. You can join the Zoom meeting at any time during the session and we will connect you with the IPUMS data expert best equipped to answer your questions.

What questions are asked during virtual office hours?

IPUMS users come to office hours with many different questions. Whether it is a specific question about a variable in an IPUMS data collection for an established research project, or you have a research project idea and don’t know where to start with accessing IPUMS data, we are ready to talk data!

Some examples of questions that have been asked at IPUMS Virtual Office Hours are…

  • Which IPUMS dataset is most appropriate for my proposed research application?
  • Are there specific considerations for sample design I should be accounting for in my analysis?
  • How do I account for differences in geographic units over time?
  • How do IPUMS versions of the data compare to those from original data providers?

Our data experts look forward to seeing all of the IPUMS users at virtual office hours and are eager to help answer all of their data questions. Be on the lookout for upcoming virtual office hours.