AAPOR
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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR endorses ISO Standard 20252

Statement on ISO 20252 - Market, Opinion, and Social Research

Background
In 2006, three years of work by an international committee comprised of representatives from research associations (including CASRO, WAPOR, and ESOMAR) in over 20 countries culminated in the release of an international standard for the conduct of market, opinion, and social research. At last count, over 200 research organizations and companies worldwide had certified to the standard. AAPOR began discussion of the standard in a panel session organized by then Standards Chair Tom Guterbock at the 2007 conference. In 2009, the Standards Committee appointed a subcommittee to review the ISO standard, determine whether it was consistent with the values expressed in the AAPOR Code, and, if so, to draft a statement of support to recommend to the Executive Council. The subcommittee found the standard to be very comprehensive and supportive of good practice in survey and public opinion research. A second ISO panel session was held at the 2010 conference recounting the experience of organizations in certification process (including Statistics Sweden) and certification services available in North America. Participants included Tom Smith, Lars Lyberg, Jim Wolf, and Reg Baker.

Statement
The Executive Council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research has voted to endorse the efforts of the international research community to improve and standardize the practice of survey and opinion research around the globe through the issuance of the international standard, ISO 20252 – Market, Opinion, and Social Research. AAPOR believes that the standard’s comprehensive coverage of all phases of the research process, its emphasis on a standardized and well-documented research approach, and especially the requirement for full disclosure of research procedures and methods are all important steps forward in the promotion of high quality survey and public opinion research. This last requirement for full disclosure is especially compelling for AAPOR given its ongoing efforts to promote disclosure of key information about survey methods via its Transparency Initiative.

AAPOR also notes that while it is now possible for U.S. research organizations to certify to the standard through the CASRO Institute for Research Quality (CIRQ) certification may not be an appropriate path for all research organizations. For example, many university-based research organizations already face similar and ongoing scrutiny of their methods by groups such as Institutional Review Boards and therefore find little advantage in taking on the additional cost of ISO certification. Large government contracts typically contain detailed methodological and disclosure requirements that may supersede ISO’s requirements. Where these types of regulations are not already in place, ISO certification may be an effective way for research organizations in all sectors of our industry to affirm their commitment to high quality survey and public opinion research and to ensure its practice.

More information about ISO 20252 can be found either on the website of the International Organization for Standardization (www.iso.org) or the website of the CASRO Institute for Research Quality (www.cirq.org). More information on AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative can be found on the AAPOR website (www.aapor.org). 2 Statement of Endorsement of the ICC/ESOMAR Code

Background
In October of 2009, AAPOR was approached by ESOMAR with a request to adopt or endorse the ICC/ESOMAR Code. This code already has been adopted by over 40 associations worldwide and another five organizations have endorsed it meaning that they “have their own code which is similar and at least as restrictive as the ICC/ESOMAR Code.” The endorsing organizations are: Market Research and Intelligence association (Canada), European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association, Asociación Mexicana de Agencias de Investigación de Mercados y Opinion Publica (Mexico), Asociación Peruana de Empresas de Investigación de Mercados (Peru), and The Council of American Survey Research Organizations.

Given the timing of the request from ESOMAR the committee felt it best to wait until the revision of the AAPOR Code was complete, although it is worth noting that the ESOMAR Code was one of the documents reviewed by the Code Review Committee. Standards has since appointed a subcommittee to review the ICC/ESOMAR Code in the context of our own revised code. The subcommittee then drafted a statement to endorse and that statement was discussed an approved by the full Standards Committee.

Statement
The Executive Council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research has voted to endorse the ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research. While there are some differences in approach, AAPOR believes that the values expressed in the ICC/ESOMAR code are consistent with those in AAPOR’s own Code of Professional Ethics and Practices and so joins ESOMAR in espousing the key principles that must guide survey and opinion research regardless of sector or geography. Those principles include: respect for individual privacy and confidentiality, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, avoidance of sales and marketing, and full disclosure of methods. The focus on disclosure is especially compelling for AAPOR given its own efforts to promote disclosure of key information about survey methods via its Transparency Initiative. AAPOR is pleased to strengthen its relationship with ESOMAR by endorsing their code.

AAPOR also notes that the intent is not to supplant its own code, but rather to convey support for the values and principles put forth in the ICC/ESOMAR Code. The AAPOR code remains the governing document on ethics and principles for AAPOR members. For more information on the AAPOR Code see the AAPOR website (www.aapor.org).

For more information on the ICC/ESOMAR code see the ESOMAR website (www.esomar.org).