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Transparency Initiative Continues to Gain Support

By Scott Keeter, Vice President

Earlier this year at the Annual Conference, then-President Peter Miller presented a vision for a new initiative to encourage survey organizations to be more transparent when reporting on the results of surveys. To make sure his message got through to the conference attendees, he even presented it twice! The initiative is intended to provide AAPOR recognition to organizations for routinely disclosing methodological information. In essence, it seeks to extend to participating organizations the disclosure obligations of the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

Miller recommended that the Executive Council establish a steering committee to develop a plan for the Transparency Initiative (TI). As the newly-elected vice president, I was asked to chair this steering committee, which includes Miller and the chairs and associate chairs of the Standards (Reg Baker and Tim Johnson), Communications (Jon Cohen and Rich Morin) and Membership and Chapter Relations (Kelly Foster and Joe Murphy) committees.

This fall the Standards Committee has two subcommittees working to develop specific requirements for what should be disclosed by organizations that seek recognition under the TI, as well as how compliance will be assessed. These subcommittees include members of the Standards Committee as well as numerous volunteers from the AAPOR membership. The subcommittees are consulting with a small advisory group chosen from the more than 60 survey organizations that have signed on as supporters of the TI.

We plan to take a tentative framework to the Executive Council for review and input at its mid-January meeting in Washington, D.C. At that point, we'll invite comment from other participating TI organizations and the AAPOR membership, and hope to get final council approval in March. Once a framework for the TI is in place, the Communications and Membership and Chapter Relations Committee will be working to promote the TI within AAPOR and in the broader survey research community.

We plan to work actively with the survey organizations who signed on as supporters as we put the TI into practice. And a special session at the 2011 annual conference in Phoenix will be devoted to the TI.

Contact the TI steering committee via email with ideas and suggestions.

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