National Cancer Institute Home at the National Institutes of Health | www.cancer.gov

Gordon Willis

Photograph of Gordon Willis

Gordon Willis, PhD, is Cognitive Psychologist in the Office of the Associate Director of the Applied Research Program. Prior to that he was Senior Research Methodologist at Research Triangle Institute, and he also worked for over a decade at the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, to develop methods for developing and testing survey questions.

Dr. Willis attended Oberlin College, and received a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University. He now works mainly in the area of the development and evaluation of surveys on cancer risk factors, and focuses on questionnaire pretesting. He has produced the "Questionnaire Appraisal System" for use in evaluating draft survey questions, and has written the book "Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design." He also co-teaches a graduate-level questionnaire design course at the Joint Program for Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland, and serves as Adjunct Faculty at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). His research interests have recently turned to cross-cultural issues in self-report surveys and research studies, and in particular the development of best practices for questionnaire translation, and the development of pretesting techniques to evaluate the cross-cultural comparability of survey questions.

Dr. Willis also works in the area of human subjects protection in cancer research, and has served as Chair of the NCI Special Studies Institutional Review Board (IRB). He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, and consults regularly on matters pertaining to ethical issues in population-based research.

Last Modified: 10 Apr 2014