AAPOR
The leading association
of public opinion and
survey research professionals
American Association for Public Opinion Research

What is the TI?

AAPOR Transparency Initiative logo
 
 




 


AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative is designed to promote methodological disclosure through a proactive, educational approach that assists survey organizations in developing simple and efficient means for routinely disclosing the research methods associated with their publicly-released studies. The Transparency Initiative is an approach to the goal of an open science of survey research by acknowledging those organizations that pledge to practice transparency in their reporting of survey-based research findings. In doing so, AAPOR makes no judgment about the approach, quality or rigor of the methods being disclosed.
 


Why should my organization join?

 
Membership in the Transparency Initiative will identify your organization as one that is willing to publicly disclose its basic research methods and make them available for public inspection. It marks your organization as one that values openness and has been formally recognized for your commitment to transparency in research methods.
 

What are the benefits to my organization?

 
Joining the Transparency Initiative will provide your organization with formal public recognition by AAPOR of your voluntary pledge to abide by our disclosure standards. It will also provide you with the opportunity to advertise your commitment to transparency by using AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative logo in your promotional materials. In addition, it will afford you with the opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors who have elected not to participate.
 

Will the methodology reports I submit be kept confidential?

 
All Transparency Initiative submissions will remain confidential and will be used only for the purpose of reviewing for membership in the TI. No submitted samples/information will be publicly released without your written permission.
 

My organization is very large. Does the entire organization have to commit in order to join the Transparency Initiative?

 
No. Survey subunits of larger organizations are eligible to join the Transparency Initiative without committing other components of the organization to adhere to its requirements.
 

How does my organization join?

 
Your organization can apply for Transparency Initiative membership online. We’ve tried to make the application process as easy as possible.
 

Can for-profit organizations apply for the Transparency Initiative membership?

 
Yes, for-profit organizations are welcome and encouraged to apply for membership in the Transparency Initiative. We can also consider for membership an organization that only commissions research for private clients if they meet our requirements (see the Terms and Conditions documentation on the website).
 

Can firms that are registered and operational only outside the US (no presence inside the US) apply for the Transparency Initiative?

 
All survey-related organizations – domestic or international – may apply for membership in the Transparency Initiative if they are willing to abide by the transparency guidelines. (See the Terms and Conditions documentation on the website).
 

What does it cost to join?

 
Nothing. In 2017, the AAPOR Executive Council formally decided to waive any membership fees for organizations to join the Transparency Initiative. 
 

How long does the submission process require?

 
Once your organization has submitted their reports and Transparency Certification Agreement, we will work to complete the initial review process as quickly as possible, but final approval and admission to the Transparency Initiative may take some time, depending on the completeness of your submission. A team of Transparency Initiative reviewers will work with your designated representative to complete the review process as quickly as possible.
 

How much of our staff time will this require?

 
Adherence to Transparency Initiative principles includes insuring that staff are trained and prepared to practice transparency when reporting survey findings and insuring that all related reports are consistent with the Transparency Initiative reporting requirements. There’s no question that compliance with Transparency Initiative principles will take some time and effort on your organization’s part. To the degree that your organization is already fully disclosing your research methods on a regular basis, less effort should be needed to become Transparency Initiative compliant.
 

What if the reviewers find problems with the way we are disclosing our research methods?

 
In the majority of situations where the Transparency Initiative reviewers find problems, they will provide assistance in helping the applicant organization revise their current disclosure procedures in order to become compliant with the TI requirements. The Transparency Initiative’s goal is to work with your organization to achieve our common goal of transparency and openness.
 

Are Transparency Initiative members required to disclose their methodology in a particular format?

 
No. Organizations will be expected to continue reporting methodological information using the modality and format they consider being most appropriate for their purposes. The Transparency Initiative requires only that the disclosure elements be made publicly available at the same time that survey findings are publicly released, and that additional methodological details be made available within 30 days of any request for that information. The specific format in which that information is to be shared is at the discretion of the organization. While organizations will always have freedom to tailor the format in which they make this information publicly available, it is expected that in the majority of cases this information can be easily posted on your organization’s website.
 

What if my organization only subcontracts for data collection work?

 
In those cases when your organization does not collect the survey data, you will be expected to request this information from the fieldwork subcontractor so it is available in the event the data is made public.
 

What if my organization only collects data for other organizations?

 
In those cases where your organization participates as a fieldwork contractor only, you must agree to provide the same information to the study’s sponsor. It’s understood that whether clients elect to disclose that information or not is beyond your control. But insuring that they have the information is your responsibility.
 

When reporting old data, do we still need to provide all disclosure elements?

 
No. The Transparency Initiative disclosure requirements are prospective only. So, for example, reports that provide time trend data will only require methodological details for the new primary survey data being reported.
 

Will the Transparency Initiative be evaluating the quality of my research methods?

 
No. The Transparency Initiative does not attempt to judge the quality of member’s survey methods. Rather, it is concerned with insuring that research methods are consistently disclosed so that research consumers have available the information necessary to reach their own conclusions regarding survey quality.
 

Why should AAPOR be the advocate for research transparency?

 
AAPOR has long championed the importance of transparency in the public reporting of public opinion and survey research. The Transparency Initiative’s disclosure standards are those found in the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices, the Code that all AAPOR members have pledged to uphold. Encouraging adherence to these standards is consistent with our long-held values of research transparency and openness.
 

When can my organization join the Transparency Initiative?

 
Public invitations to join the Transparency Initiative were first announced in October 2014 and extended to all survey organizations.
 

Can I become a Sponsor of the TI?

 
Yes; any organization that wants to show additional support of the TI may donate funds to the Initiative and hold SPONSOR status with the TI. For more information on becoming a TI Sponsor, contact Adam Thocher at AAPOR HQ.
 

Where can I get more information?

 
For more details regarding the Transparency Initiative, view our Terms & Conditions.
 
v. August 2017