Transparency Initiative

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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

NYT shout-out to AAPOR Transparency Initiative. Read more (June 2014)

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 (June 2014)  See archives. 


View the five (5) TI Informational Modules 


AAPOR has for decades worked to encourage objective survey standards for practice and disclosure. The Transparency Initiative is our next step, 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 thus our approach to the goal of an open science of survey research. Its approach is to acknowledge those organizations that pledge to practice transparency in their reporting of survey-based research 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.

The Transparency Initiative will offer benefits to the public and our profession by:

• 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, and
• by contributing to public understanding of this important distinction.

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.

COMING SEPTEMBER 2014: Organizations can join the Transparency Initiative in 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 five 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 an application fee to AAPOR to cover basic costs associated with processing and providing ongoing monitoring. Note: all fees will be waived during the first twelve months of the Transparency Initiative’s operation. Small maintenance fees will be charged to all participating organizations in subsequent years.
• 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 (coming soon).


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. 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 Transparency 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 spent early 2014 making the final arrangements necessary to formally launch AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, with that official launch date now set for September 8, 2014. During the 2014 AAPOR Conference, membership was again updated regarding Transparency Initiative progress and plans. View the Powerpoint Presentation here.


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