Who was Irving Saulwick?

Irving Saulwick was one of Australia's leading social researchers. In 1971, with the support of Creighton Burns at The Age newspaper and Alan Davies at the University of Melbourne, he was instrumental in establishing Age Poll (later known as the Saulwick Poll), results of which were published by The Age in Melbourne and The Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney. A regular newspaper feature until the mid-1990s, the Saulwick polls documented public opinion of political events, social reforms and everyday life in late-twentieth century Australia.

I have always said that good survey work is a combination of science, management and art. One has to be scientific in one's design. One must manage one's resources well. One must also train, brief and supervise one's interviewers well. But finally one has to have imagination - to produce unbiased, value free and simple questions which do capture real information from people to whom they are put and which allow them not to answer, if they wish, without feeling stupid. -IRVING SAULWICK

As well as running several successful market and social research companies, Saulwick was Chair of the Market Research Society of Australia (1968-1969) and Chair of the Victorian Dairy Industry Authority (1985-1992). He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1991 for service to the dairy industry. He also held positions as Visiting Research Fellow in the Political Science Department at the University of Melbourne (1969 and 1985) and Visiting Fellow in Marketing at the David Syme Business School, now part of Monash University, in 1978.

Saulwick's approach was characterised by a strong regard for ethical survey design; deep knowledge of polling methodology; and an abiding interest in, and respect for, the opinions of people interviewed as part of his surveys and focus groups.

Irving Saulwick died in August 2012.

Students' Representative Council (44th), University of Melbourne, 1949-1950. Irving Saulwick is in the back row, fourth from right. University of Melbourne Photograph collection, The University of Melbourne Archives Image Catalogue: UMA/I/1512. Image used with permission.