In the UK, the Market Research Society (MRS) is preparing to update its Code of Conduct, which was first issued 60 years ago as a means of reassuring the general public and other interested parties that research is carried out in a professional and ethnical manner.
The code is drawn up by researchers for researchers, and is relevant for market, social and opinion research. MRS members must adhere to the code, regulations and the associated disciplinary procedures.
From 1st September, new rules will reflect changes in technology, moving away from a purely 'interviewer and respondent' model of research. Six new definitions have been added, with the term 'participant' replacing the word 'respondent', and the new code also features legal definitions of personal data, data controller, data processor and third party, as included in the Data Protection Act 1998.
In addition, five new rules have been drawn up: to provide a clear distinction between research and direct marketing; set out parameters for the offering of incentives; ensure a clear requirement for informed consent for the collection of personal data from participants; outline members' obligations in anonymising data; and ensure members establish a fair and lawful basis for the processing of personal data for other sources.
CEO Jane Frost comments: 'The emergence of massive datasets and the public's concern around privacy are just two examples of challenges to the sector that didn't exist ten years ago, let alone sixty. The updated code is the bedrock on which this sector will continue to flourish - it ensures that research is legal, ethical and transparent, and that is critical to customer and consumer trust.'
Web site: www.mrs.org.uk .
All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.