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How to read opinion polls: MRS guidance for non-researchers


This guide will help individuals assess, evaluate and interpret polls, writes Caroline Callahan (CMRS). Caroline is Research Director at Ipsos MORI and sits on the Market Research Standards Board.

Predicting the likely outcome of the UK’s general election on 8 June; identifying the key issues facing the country; uncovering the views and opinions of the British public. Pollsters produce a plethora of statistics to help us navigate the political landscape and provide a better understanding of public opinion.  

To help individuals assess, evaluate and interpret such polls, the Market Research Society has produced a guide entitled 'What are opinion polls? MRS guidance on how to read opinion polls'.

Aimed primarily for non-researchers, this guide will help audiences to make an assessment of how authoritative the opinion poll is and how reliable the results are likely to be. It will also highlight ten items you will need to consider in your evaluation.

10 questions to ask when evaluating opinion polls

1. Who has commissioned the opinion poll?

2. Who has undertaken the opinion poll research?

3. Has the opinion poll been carried out among the appropriate target audience / population? Are there any groups missing?

4. Is the methodological approach appropriate?

5. Is the sample representative of the target audience / population, or not?

6. Are the questions asked appropriate, accurate, balanced and unambiguous?

7. Have the survey data been weighted and is the weighting accurate?

8. Are the data tables accurate and, if published, is there a Technical Note?

9. Is the commentary on the results accurate?

10. Full details of the Opinion Poll

Event highlights

November 2017
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