Transparency Initiative

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Tom W. Smith, Past President of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), announces that his organization is formally endorsing AAPOR's Transparency Initiative and joining as a Supporter. See all Supporters.


Read the most recent Transparency Initiative Update (March 2014)  See archives. 


View the five TI Informational Modules 


Transparency Initiative Overview/History

In November 2009 the American Association for Public Opinion Research 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. See Peter Miller's 2010 Presidential Address concerned with the TI here.

Contemplated elements of the Transparency Initiative include:

  • 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 plans to officially recognize those organizations that routinely disclose methodological information. In addition, the Association will help participating organizations comply with the initiative, and educate survey sponsors and the public on the importance of transparency.

A number of organizations and individuals have agreed to work with AAPOR on the initiative. View the list of organizations here. If your organization would like to play a part, or if it has been mistakenly left off the list, please email us at

Over the past three years, 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 Transiency Initiative once it were implemented. At the May 2011 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. View the current membership of the TICC here. At the May 2012 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 received to date. New policies, procedures and educational materials were prepared in anticipation of a second pilot test of the Transparency Initiative 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 Annual 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, we have conducted a second pilot of the Transparency Initiative with a group of ten organizations that generously contributed their time and effort to help us test our revised policies and procedures. The pilot test was completed in late 2013 and we have spent the first several months of 2014 making the final arrangements necessary to formally launch AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative.


For more information about what prompted the initiative and what it entails, see the Fall 2009 AAPOR News article by Peter Miller, AAPOR president 2009-10. For questions, comments or to support the initiative, email