1. The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), in fulfilling its main objective to advance the use of science in the field of public opinion research and in recognition of its obligations to the public, hereby prescribes principles of ethical practices for the guidance of its members, and a framework of professional standards that should be acceptable to users of research and to the public at large.
2. In an increasingly complex world, social and economic planning is more and more dependent upon public opinion reliably studied. The general public is the source of much of this information. Consequently, members of WAPOR acknowledge their obligations to protect the public from misrepresentation and exploitation in the name of research. At the same time, WAPOR affirms the interdependence of free expression of opinion and the researcher’s freedom to conduct public opinion research.
3. Members of WAPOR recognize their obligations both to the profession they practice and to those who provide support for this practice to adhere to the basic standards of scientific investigation.
4. This code defines professional ethics and practices in the field of public opinion research. Adherence to this code is deemed necessary to maintain confidence that researchers in this field are bound by a set of sound and basic principles based on experience gained over many years of development.
A. Responsibilies of Researchers
5. The objective study of facts and data, conducted as accurately as permitted by the available resources and techniques, is a guiding principle of all research.
6. The researcher shall be accurate in providing prospective sponsors with information about his/her experience, capacities, and organization.
7. The researcher shall make every reasonable effort to adhere to specifications proposed to and accepted by the sponsor/client. Should the researcher find it necessary to deviate from these specifications, s/he shall obtain the sponsor’s/client’s prior approval.
8. The researcher shall not select tools of data collection or analysis because of the likelihood that they will support a desired conclusion, if that conclusion is not scientifically warranted.
9. The researcher shall in every report and other presentation of the findings distinguish her/his actual data from observations or judgments that may be based on other evidence.
10. Whenever data from a single survey or study are provided for more than one sponsor/client or when data are provided to several sponsors/clients, the researcher shall inform each sponsor/client of the fact.
11. Respondents shall be informed of the sponsor/client of a survey, upon their request, unless the researcher and the sponsor/client believe this would bias responses. In such an instance, and upon a respondent’s request, respondents shall be told who the sponsor/client is after the data are gathered.
12. All information and material supplied by the sponsor/client for the research must remain confidential. It shall only be used in this context and shall not be made available to third parties without the sponsor’s/client’s prior authorization.
13. Without prior authorization of the sponsor/client, no findings from commissioned research shall be disclosed by the researcher except as provided for in Section 19c.
14. Except by mutual consent, data must not be sold or transferred by either the sponsor or the researcher to parties not involved in the original contract work. If data is transferred by mutual consent, this must be done in a manner that respondents remain unidentified.
15. Unless there is agreement between researcher and the sponsor/client to the contrary, the research techniques and methods, such as sampling designs, interviewer instructions, test designs, questionnaire wording, analytical tools etc., used for the study remain the researcher’s property, if s/he has developed them.
16. Unless there is agreement to the contrary, also all data, research documents (such as protocols and questionnaires) or any other material used in the study shall be the property of the researcher. The researcher is, however, required to provide for storage of this material for whatever period is customary in a particular country. This obligation shall be considered fulfilled by storage in a recognized data archive, if necessary, with restricted access.
17. Upon completion of a research study and after the researcher has submitted the final report, the sponsor/client may request, according to previous, mutually agreed upon specifications, a duplicate set of the data prepared from the questionnaire, provided that the sponsor shall bear the reasonable cost of preparation of such duplicates, and that respondents remain unidentified.
B. Responsibilities of Sponsors/Clients
18. Potential sponsors/clients asking for research proposals and quotations recognize that, in the absence of a fee or other form of payment, such proposals and quotations remain the property of the researcher. In particular, prospective sponsors/clients must not use the proposals of one researcher competitively in order to negotiate or obtain a lowering of the price from other researchers.
19. Reports provided by the researcher are normally for the use of the sponsor/client and his/her agents. The researcher and the sponsor/client shall agree regarding the means of dissemination of the complete or partial results of a research study to other parties or to the public.
(a) The sponsor/client and researcher should try to ensure that any publication of study results will not be quoted out of context or distort any facts or findings of the study.
(b) The researcher must be consulted in regard to the form of publication and is entitled to refuse to grant permission for his/her name to be quoted in connection with the study where s/he considers clause (a) has been violated.
(c) If the researcher becomes aware of the appearance in public of serious distortions of the research, s/he shall publicly disclose what is required to correct these distortions, including, as appropriate, a statement to the public media or other groups, in or before which the distorted findings were presented.
C. Rules of Practice Regarding Reports and Study Results
20. Every complete report on a study should contain an adequate explanation of the following relevant points:
(a) for whom the study was conducted and by whom it was carried out;
(b) the purpose of the study;
(c) the universe or population to which the results of the study are projected;
(d) the method by which the sample was selected, including the type of sample (probability, quota, etc.), the specific procedures by which it was selected and the actual size of the sample;
(e) the degree of success in actually carrying out the sample design, including the rate of non-response and how it was calculated or a comparison of the size and characteristics of the actual and anticipated sample;
(f) a description of estimating procedures (if any) and/or weighting procedures used to adjust raw data;
(g) a full description of the method employed in the study;
(h) the time at which the study was done, and the time span covered in collecting data;
(i) a copy or printout of the questionnaire, interview schedule or other data collection instrument(s) including instructions.
(j) which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than the whole sample;
(k) a description of the precision of the findings, including, if applicable, estimates of sampling error.
21. Technical terms shall be employed in the report in accordance with their commonly understood scientific usage.
D. Responsibility to Informants
22. No informant, respondent or other research participant must be adversely affected as a result of his/her answers or of the research process. The researcher shall respect respondent’s decisions about their participation in the research and use no methods or techniques by which the informant is put in the position that s/he cannot exercise his/her right to withdraw or refuse his/her answers at any stage of the research.
23. Researchers shall respect the need of informants, respondents or others participating in the research for privacy, confidentiality and data protection.
24. No response in a survey or other research finding shall be linked in any way to an identifiable respondent. Respondents must remain unidentified, except in rare cases, with the respondent’s specific permission and provided that it is not ruled out by national law. The researcher must take measures to prevent deductive disclosure.
25. The interview method or any other method employed by the researcher must never be used as a disguise for other purposes such as marketing, sales solicitation, fundraising or political campaigning.
E. For Interviewers
26. Research assignments and materials received, as well as all information from respondents, shall be held in confidence by the interviewer and revealed to no one except the research organization conducting the study.
27. No information gained through a research activity shall be used, directly or indirectly, for the personal gain or advantage of the interviewer in his/her relations with the respondents.
28. The research shall be conducted in strict accordance with specifications. No interviewer shall carry out more than one assignment in contact with the same respondents unless this is authorized by the research organization and its clients.
29. The principle of fair competition, as generally understood and accepted, should be applied by all researchers, even in cases where they may be the sole operators in their country.
30. In their personal and business relationship, researchers will be governed by the tradition of common respect among colleagues in the same profession.
31. No outside pressure, political or commercial, can be used by a research organization to justify violation of this code.
32. Members shall not try to turn to account or put into evidence the fact of their membership in WAPOR as a token of professional competence. Membership implies no guarantee of qualification, but it does imply acceptance of this code.