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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Transparency Initiative Update

by Jennifer Benz and Krista Jenkins, Transparency Initiative Coordinating Committee Co-Chairs
The Transparency Initiative Coordinating Committee (TICC) has been hard at work incorporating the updated Code of Professional Ethics and Practices adopted by AAPOR membership in April 2021. The revised code updated Section III: Standards for Disclosures. These standards guide the required elements that TI members are committed to disclosing as part of their membership.  

The revised standards of disclosure are designed to be broadly applicable to a variety of quantitative and qualitative public opinion methodologies such as probability and non-probability surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and content and sentiment analyses. While the revised standards maintain many of the same elements as the prior code, there are a few additions that are now required to be disclosed at the time results are released. These additions include: 
  • Describing how data were processed and data quality procedures. Describe validity checks, where applicable, including but not limited to whether the researcher added attention checks, logic checks, or excluded respondents who straight-lined or completed the survey under a certain time constraint, any screening of content for evidence that it originated from bots or fabricated profiles, re-contacts to confirm that the interview occurred or to verify respondent’s identity or both, and measures to prevent respondents from completing the survey more than once. Any data imputation or other data exclusions or replacement will also be discussed. Researchers will provide information about whether any coding was done by software or human coders (or both); if automated coding was done, name the software and specify the parameters or decision rules that were used. 
  • Including a general statement acknowledging limitations of the design and data collection. All research has limitations and researchers will include a general statement acknowledging the unmeasured error associated with all forms of public opinion research. 
TI members are committed to practicing transparency in their reporting of public opinion and survey research findings. TI members will be required to comply with the new disclosure standards starting no later than January 1, 2022.  

The TICC is currently working to update the TI website to incorporate the new standards. The website will include new educational materials including a checklist TI members can follow to ensure their methods statements include all the required disclosure elements and examples of compliant statements from a variety of different quantitative and qualitative research methods.  

To maintain TI certification, members are required to recertify their commitment to the TI on an annual basis by signing a new certification. The TICC will be sending the recertification request later in October. The recertification letter will include a link to the new disclosure requirements and will ask members for their commitment to abide by these standards beginning no later than January 1, 2022. 

The TICC co-chairs are always happy to speak with members about questions or provide confidential reviews of methods statements to ensure compliance. Please feel free to reach out with questions.