18 May. 2011


World Associarion for Public Opinion Research

The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), in fulfilling its main objective to advance the use of science in the field of public opinion research and in recognition of its obligations to the public, hereby prescribes principles of ethical practices for the guidance of its members, and a framework of professional standards that should be acceptable to users of research and to the public at large.


1. The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), in fulfilling its main objective to advance the use of science in the field of public opinion research and in recognition of its obligations to the public, hereby prescribes principles of ethical practices for the guidance of its members, and a framework of professional standards that should be acceptable to users of research and to the public at large.

2. In an increasingly complex world, social and economic planning is more and more dependent upon public opinion reliably studied. The general public is the source of much of this information. Consequently, members of WAPOR acknowledge their obligations to protect the public from misrepresentation and exploitation in the name of research. At the same time, WAPOR affirms the interdependence of free expression of individual opinion and the researcher's freedom to interview.

3. Members of WAPOR recognize their obligations both to the profession they practice and to those who provide support for this practice to adhere to the basic standards of scientific investigation.

4. This code defines professional ethics and practices in the field of public opinion research. Adherence to this code is deemed necessary to maintain confidence that researchers in this field are bound by a set of sound and basic principles based on experience gained over many years of development.


A. Responsibilities of Researchers

5. The objective study of facts and data, conducted as accurately as permitted by the available resources and techniques, is the guiding principle of all research.

6. In executing his/her work, the researcher shall make every reasonable effort to adhere exactly to the specifications proposed to and accepted by the sponsor. Should the researcher find it necessary to deviate from these specifications, s/he shall obtain the sponsor's prior approval.

7. The researcher shall in every report distinguish his/her actual data from observations or judgments that may be based on other evidence.

8. The researcher shall not select tools of data collection analysis because of likelihood that they will support a desired conclusion, if that conclusion is not scientifically warranted.

9. Whenever data from a single survey are provided for more than one sponsor or when data are provided to several sponsors, the researcher shall inform each sponsor of the fact.

10. Respondents shall be informed of the sponsor of a survey unless the researcher and sponsor believe this will bias responses.

11. All information and material supplied by the sponsor for the research must remain confidential unless otherwise agreed between them.

12. Without prior consent of the sponsor, no findings from the commissioned research shall be disclosed by the researcher except as provided for in Secion 18C. However, unless there is agreement to the contrary, the research techniques and methods, such as sampling designs, names of interviews, survey instructions, etc., used for the study remain the researcher's property, if s/he has developed them.

13. Except by mutual consent, data shall not be sold or transferred by either the sponsor or the researcher to parties not involved in the original contract work.

14. Unless it is customary or specifically agreed to the contrary, all data, research documents (such as interviews and tests of sample households) or any other material used in the survey work shall be the property of the researcher. The researcher is, however, required to provide for storage of this material for whatever period is customary in a particular country. This obligation shall be considered fulfilled by storage in a recognized data archive, if necessary, with restricted access.

15. Upon completion of a research study and after the researcher has submitted his/her final report, the sponsor may request, according to previous, mutually agreed upon specifications, a duplicate set of all data prepared from the questionnaire, provided that the sponsor shall bear the reasonable cost of preparation of such duplicates, and that respondents remain unidentified.

16. The researcher shall be accurate in providing prospective sponsors with information about his/her experience, capacities, and organization.

B. Responsibilities of Sponsor

17. Potential sponsors asking for research proposals and quotations recognize that, in the absence of a fee being paid, such proposals and quotations remain the property of the researcher. In particular, prospective sponsors must not use the proposals of one researcher competitively in order to obtain a lowering of the price from other researchers.

18. Reports provided by the researcher are normally for the use of the sponsor and his/her agents. The researcher and the sponsor shall agree regarding the means of dissemination of the complete or partial results of a research study.

(a) The sponsor and researcher should try to ensure that any publication of survey results will not be quoted out of context or distort any facts or findings of the survey.

(b) The researcher must be consulted in regard to the form of publication and is entitled to refuse to grant permission for his/her name to be quoted in connection with the survey where s/he considers clause (a) has been violated.

(c) If the researcher becomes aware of the appearance in public of serious distortions of the research, the researcher shall publicly disclose what is required to correct these distortions, including, as appropirate, a statement to the public media or other groups, in or before which the distorted findings were presented.

C. Rules of Practice Regarding Reports and Survey Results

19. Every complete report on a survey should contain an adequate explanation of the following relevant points:

(a) for whom the survey was conducted and by whom it was carried out;

(b) the purpose of the study;

(c) the universe or population to which the results of the survey are projected;

(d) the method by which the sample was selected, including both the type of sample (probability, quota, etc.) and the specific procedures by which it was selected;

(e) steps taken to ensure that the sample design would actually be carried out;

(f) the degree of success in actually carrying out the design, including the rate of non-response and a comparison of the size and characteristics of the actual and anticipated samples;

(g) a full description of the estimating procedure used for all results that are reported, including the sample size on which it was based and weighting procedures used to adjust raw data;

(h) a full description of the method employed in the survey;

(i) the time at which the survey, if any, was done, and the time span covered in collecting data;

(j) the findings obtained;

(k) (where the nature and the research demands it) the characteristics of those employed as interviewers and coders and the methods of their training and supervision;

(l) a copy of the interview schedule or questionnaire and instructions.

(m) which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than the whole sample;

(n) a description of the precision of the findings, including, if applicable, estimates of sampling error.

20. Technical terms shall be employed in a survey report in accordance with their commonly understood scientific usage.


D. Responsibility to Informants

21. No informant or respondent must be adversely affected as a result of his/her answers or of the interviewing process. The researcher shall use no methods or techniques by which the informant is put in the position that s/he cannot exercise his/her right to withdraw or refuse his/her answers at any stage of the interview.

22. No response in a survey shall be linked in any way to an identifiable respondent. The anonymity of respondents shall be respected, except in rare cases, with the respondent's specific permission. The interview method shall never be used as a disguise for a sales solicitation.

23. For Interviewers:

(a) Research assignments and materials received, as well as information from respondents, shall be held in confidence by the interviewer and revealed to no one except the research organization conducting the study.

(b) No information gained through a research activity shall be used, directly or indirectly, for the personal gain or advantage of the interviewer in his/her relations with the respondents.

(c) Survey work shall be conducted in strict accordance with specifications. No interviewer shall carry out more than one assignment in contact with the same respondents unless this is authorized by the research organization and its clients.


24. The principle of fair competition, as generally understood and accepted, should be applied by all researchers, even in cases where they may be the sole operators in their country.

25. In their personal and business relationship, researchers will be governed by the tradition of common respect among colleagues in the same profession.

26. No outside pressure, political or commercial, can be used by a research organization to justify violation of this code.

27. Members shall not try to turn to account or put into evidence the fact of their membership in WAPOR as a token of professional competence. Membership implies no guarantee of qualification, but it does imply acceptance of this code.