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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Transparency Initiative

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  • Institute for Social Research and Public Health Survey Research Program at Sacramento State University  (1/29/16)


  • AAPOR received a letter from the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) indicating their interest in the Transparency Initiative and noting their support for our shared value of scientific openness.
  • The TI  is pleased to announce that has been formally endorsed by:
  • AASRO endorses the TI - During its annual meeting, held at the Bloustein School at Rutgers University, the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO) formally endorsed AAPOR's Transparency Initiative and encouraged its member organizations to become part of the TI.
  • The editors of AAPOR's three journals, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, and Survey Practice, now require the reporting of all Transparency Initiative disclosure elements as part of each manuscript submitted for peer review. For a complete list of those disclosure elements, see Section III.A of AAPOR's Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.


Read the most recent Transparency Initiative Update

Updates Archive



View the seven (7) TI Informational Modules 



AAPOR is pleased to announce that the Transparency Initiative (TI) was officially launched in early October 2014 and we are now inviting applications for formal membership from all interested organizations.  

Why Join?

AAPOR invested in the development of the Transparency Initiative to encourage broader and more effective disclosure of research methods by all organizations. Our goal is 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 will benefit participating organizations like yours by providing formal public recognition by AAPOR of an organization’s voluntary commitment to abide by the disclosure standards in our Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

Joining the Transparency Initiative is simple.

Organizations pledge to abide by AAPOR’s disclosure standards, train their employees by viewing our short, simple educational modules, and document the required understanding for proper disclosure of the surveys they conduct.

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AAPOR has for decades worked to encourage objective survey standards for practice and disclosure. The Transparency Initiative is our approach to the goal of an open science of survey research. We seek to recognize those organizations that pledge to practice transparency in their reporting of survey-based findings. In doing so, AAPOR makes no judgment about the quality or rigor of the methods being disclosed. Rather, we are acknowledging member’s willingness to publicly disclose their procedures.

We encourage you to join your colleagues and sign your organization on today to become a member of the AAPOR Transparency Initiative. By joining your organization is:

  • promoting understanding of how methodology relates to survey quality,
  • increasing adherence to the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices,
  • enabling responsible media members to better differentiate between transparent and non-transparent research,
  • contributing to public understanding of this important distinction, and
  • providing the public with the information necessary for independent evaluation of survey quality.

Benefits that participation in the Transparency Initiative will provide to your organization include:

  • formal public recognition by AAPOR of your voluntary pledge to abide by our disclosure standards,
  • the ability to advertise your commitment to transparency by using AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative logo in your promotional materials, and
  • the ability to differentiate yourself from competitors who have elected not to participate.

Joining the Transparency Initiative includes a few small steps, which include the following:

  • Complete and submit a Transparency Initiative Certification Agreement
  • Certify that all employees with job responsibilities that include the methodology content of survey reports, press releases and any other forms of survey data disclosure, have been properly trained in Transparency Initiative principles and procedures via our seven TI Informational Modules.
  • Appoint a representative to coordinate compliance for the organization and be the main point of communication with AAPOR. This representative will work with the Transparency Initiative’s primary reviewers to ensure that the procedures are in place for certification and that the applicant organization is in compliance with the Transparency Initiative’s basic disclosure requirements.
  • Provide two examples of Transparency Initiative-compliant documentation based on two original surveys that will serve as models for future reporting, and working with reviewers to make modifications to this documentation to bring it into compliance (if not already).
  • Pay a $200 application fee to AAPOR to cover basic costs associated with processing and providing ongoing monitoring.
  • Each year, participating organizations will be asked to recommit to the Transparency Initiative disclosure agreement and pay a modest annual membership fee.
  • Agree to participate in biennial monitoring of a sample of recent studies, which will be reviewed for Transparency Initiative compliance.
  • For details regarding this process, see AAPOR Terms and Conditions for Transparency Certification.

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In November 2009 the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) announced its Transparency Initiative (TI), a program to place the value of openness at the center of our profession, and to encourage and make it as easy as possible for survey firms to be transparent about their research methods. The need for transparency became the centerpiece of President Peter Miller's Presidential Address during the 2010 AAPOR Conference. See Peter Miller's 2010 Presidential Address concerned with the TI here.

Contemplated elements of the Transparency Initiative included:

  • our Association’s public recognition of excellence in transparency;
  • education for organizations in how to make transparency a routine part of their work;
  • outreach to survey sponsors, users of survey data and the public to reinforce the value of transparency and to publicize the organizations that participate in the initiative;
  • collaboration with other associations and academic disciplines in these activities.

The Transparency Initiative is an evolving AAPOR program that is being designed to encourage routine disclosure of methodological information from polls and surveys whose findings are released to the public. Through the initiative, AAPOR officially recognizes those organizations that routinely disclose methodological information. In addition, the Association helps participating organizations comply with the initiative, and educate survey sponsors and the public on the importance of transparency.

A number of organizations and individuals initially  agreed to work with AAPOR on the initiative (early supporters, during TI's development). To date, the Transparency Initiative has accomplished the following:

During 2010-11, several working subcommittees, under the auspices of a TI Steering Committee (TISC), were established to begin laying out the operational framework for the Transparency Initiative. These focused on the general areas of: 1) Disclosure and Archiving; 2) Education; and 3) Recognition. A TI Advisory Committee also was established to get direct input on a broad range of issues from organizations that would likely participate in the Transparency Initiative once it were implemented. At the May 2011 AAPOR Conference, a session was chaired by incoming President Scott Keeter that provided a report to membership on the first year’s activities.

During 2011-12, the working committees were reconfigured by the TISC to address issues of 1) Structure, Qualification, and Compliance, 2) Database Process and Infrastructures, 3) Internal and External Communication and Education, and 4) Costs and Staffing. In early 2012, the first pilot test of procedures for implementing a version of the Transparency Initiative was conducted with a number of volunteer organizations participating. This was followed by a focus group session with participants in the pilot test and other members of the TI Advisory Committee to better understand what worked and did not work in the infrastructure that was tested in the pilot test from their perspective. In response to these findings, the ad hoc TISC recommended to Council that it be disbanded and be replaced with the standing Transparency Initiative Coordinating Committee (TICC). This occurred in May 2012. At the May 2012 AAPOR Conference, a session was also held to provide an overview to membership of the second year’s activities and plans for moving forward. View the PowerPoint presentation here.

During 2012-13, the TICC worked to re-conceptualize the implementation of the Transparency Initiative, based on the initial pilot test and other input. New policies, procedures and educational materials were prepared in anticipation of a second pilot test. The TICC also began posting brief monthly updates (see TI Archives) of its activities, in order to bring more transparency to the Transparency Initiative’s activities. During the 2013 AAPOR Conference, a session was again held to provide an update to AAPOR’s members regarding Transparency Initiative activities and future plans. View the PowerPoint presentation here.

During the 2013-14 Council year, a second pilot of the Transparency Initiative was conducted with a group of ten organizations generously contributing their time and effort to help test a set of revised policies and procedures. The pilot test was completed in late 2013, and early 2014 was spent continuing to make the revisions and arrangements necessary to formally launch AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative. During the 2014 AAPOR Conference, membership was again updated regarding Transparency Initiative progress and plans. View the PowerPoint Presentation here.

During the 2014-15 Council year, final materials and procedures were completed and the "soft launch" of the Transparency Initiative, during which TI supporters were invited to submit membership applications, took place on September 8, 2014. The TI's "hard launch" took place one month later on October 8, 2014, when membership was opened to all interested organizations. The first applicant, the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, was formally accepted into the Transparency Initiative on October 21, 2014. Membership was again updated regarding Transparency Initiative activities during the 2015 AAPOR Conference. View the PowerPoint presentation here. As of AAPOR's Conference in May 2015, a total of 43 organizations had been formally admitted into the Transparency Initiative.

During the 2015-16 Council year, we continue to review and accept applications for membership into the Transparency Initiative as they are received. We are also busy updating all TI materials to ensure they are consistent with AAPOR's newly revised (as of May 2015) Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. The revised Code for the first time extends the Transparency Initiative's coverage to include standards for the reporting of qualitative research and content analyses, in addition to survey research.


For questions, comments or to support the initiative, email transparency@aapor.org.

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