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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Disclosure Standards

Section III. of the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics & Practice (May, 2010) specifies:

Standards for Minimal Disclosure

Good professional practice imposes the obligation upon all survey and public opinion researchers to disclose certain essential information about how the research was conducted. When conducting publicly released research studies, full and complete disclosure to the public is best made at the time results are released, although some information may not be immediately available. When undertaking work for a private client, the same essential information should be made available to the client when the client is provided with the results.

  1. We shall include the following items in any report of research results or make them available immediately upon release of that report.
    • Who sponsored the research study, who conducted it, and who funded it, including, to the extent known, all original funding sources.
    • The exact wording and presentation of questions and responses whose results are reported.
    • A definition of the population under study, its geographic location, and a description of the sampling frame used to identify this population. If the sampling frame was provided by a third party, the supplier shall be named. If no frame or list was utilized, this shall be indicated.
    • A description of the sample design, giving a clear indication of the method by which the respondents were selected (or self-selected) and recruited, along with any quotas or additional sample selection criteria applied within the survey instrument or post-fielding. The description of the sampling frame and sample design should include sufficient detail to determine whether the respondents were selected using probability or non-probability methods.
    • Sample sizes and a discussion of the precision of the findings, including estimates of sampling error for probability samples and a description of the variables used in any weighting or estimating procedures. The discussion of the precision of the findings should state whether or not the reported margins of sampling error or statistical analyses have been adjusted for the design effect due to clustering and weighting, if any.
    • Which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than on the total sample, and the size of such parts.
    • Method and dates of data collection.
  2. We shall make the following items available within 30 days of any request for such materials.
    • Preceding interviewer or respondent instructions and any preceding questions or instructions that might reasonably be expected to influence responses to the reported results.
    • Any relevant stimuli, such as visual or sensory exhibits or show cards.
    • A description of the sampling frame’s coverage of the target population.
    • The methods used to recruit the panel, if the sample was drawn from a pre-recruited panel or pool of respondents.
    • Details about the sample design, including eligibility for participation, screening procedures, the nature of any oversamples, and compensation/incentives offered (if any).
    • Summaries of the disposition of study-specific sample records so that response rates for probability samples and participation rates for non-probability samples can be computed.
    • Sources of weighting parameters and method by which weights are applied.
    • Procedures undertaken to verify data. Where applicable, methods of interviewer training, supervision, and monitoring shall also be disclosed.
  3. If response rates are reported, response rates should be computed according to AAPOR Standard Definitions.
  4. If the results reported are based on multiple samples or multiple modes, the preceding items shall be disclosed for each.
  5. If any of our work becomes the subject of a formal investigation of an alleged violation of this Code, undertaken with the approval of the AAPOR Executive Council, we shall provide additional information on the research study in such detail that a fellow researcher would be able to conduct a professional evaluation of the study.

Frequently Asked Questions about AAPOR’s Standards for Minimal Disclosure