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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Transparency Initiative

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

AAPOR is pleased to announce that the Transparency Initiative (TI) was officially launched in early October 2014 and we are continually  inviting applications for formal membership from all interested organizations.

Past Timeline of the Initiative

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. The need for transparency became the centerpiece of President Peter Miller's Presidential Address during the 2010 AAPOR Conference. See Peter Miller's 2010 Presidential Address concerned with the TI here.
A number of organizations and individuals initially agreed to work with AAPOR on the initiative (early supporters, during TI's development). To date, 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 AAPOR 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. At the May 2012 AAPOR 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. New policies, procedures and educational materials were prepared in anticipation of a second pilot test. 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 AAPOR 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, a second pilot of the Transparency Initiative was conducted with a group of ten organizations generously contributing their time and effort to help test a set of revised policies and procedures. The pilot test was completed in late 2013, and early 2014 was spent continuing to make the revisions and arrangements necessary to formally launch AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative. During the 2014 AAPOR Conference, membership was again updated regarding Transparency Initiative progress and plans. View the PowerPoint Presentation here.

During the 2014-15 Council year, final materials and procedures were completed and the "soft launch" of the Transparency Initiative, during which TI supporters were invited to submit membership applications, took place on September 8, 2014. The TI's "hard launch" took place one month later on October 8, 2014, when membership was opened to all interested organizations. The first applicant, the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, was formally accepted into the Transparency Initiative on October 21, 2014. Membership was again updated regarding Transparency Initiative activities during the 2015 AAPOR Conference. View the PowerPoint presentation here. As of AAPOR's Conference in May 2015, a total of 43 organizations had been formally admitted into the Transparency Initiative.

During the 2015-16 Council year, we continued to review and accept applications for membership into the Transparency Initiative as they were received. We were also busy updating all TI materials to ensure they are consistent with AAPOR's Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. The revised Code for the first time extends the Transparency Initiative's coverage to include standards for the reporting of qualitative research and content analyses, in addition to survey research.