When carrying out research, MRS members must ensure that they provide the public with information on their professional accreditation in order to reassure them that the research will be carried out both professionally and ethically.

Recent news reports have suggested that a third party call centre acting for one of the main political parties misled members of the public by claiming to be from an ‘independent market research company’. 

Against this background it is particularly important that MRS members maintain robust and transparent processes that ensure that the public can continue to have trust and confidence in legitimate market and social research activities.

Key points to remember when contacting participants

Researchers must be straightforward and honest in all their professional and business relationships. A key part of this is ensuring that participants are provided with all relevant information on any research project. 

In addition to assurances that the activity undertaken is being conducted in accordance with the MRS Code of Conduct, all field or telephone workers must provide sufficient information to allow participants to decide whether they wish to participate. 

In introducing research, such as a survey, they must:-

  • State the name of the research organisation;
  • Show their Interviewer Identity Card (if contacting in person);
  • State what the interview is about;
  • If asked, state how long the interview will take;
  • Tell individuals how their contact details were obtained (if appropriate); and
  • Let the participant know if they will be monitored during the research so they can make an informed decision on whether to continue.[1]

Also the rights of participants must be respected by maintaining a ‘Do not call’ list. Individuals know they can ask to be added if they do not wish to be contacted in future.

Adherence to the MRS Code of Conduct and legal obligations is mandatory throughout the project. If any part of the research activity is to be undertaken by a third party, members must take reasonable steps to ensure that others do not breach or cause a breach of the Code. This could include providing briefing instructions for recruiters and/or interviewers and conducting spot checks.

Visible commitment to best practice together with adherence to the MRS Code of Conduct and regulatory framework by MRS members and accredited companies assists in protecting the reputation and integrity of the research profession.

For further information or any queries on the MRS Code of Conduct contact the Standards Department on codeline@mrs.org.uk

27 June 2017

[1] The only exception is if you are monitoring for internal quality control/supervision purposes and the material will not be shared more widely or used for other purposes. In this case you do not need to tell participants they are being monitored.

Read the news article:

>>Calls made on behalf of political parties

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