Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Minimal Disclosure Standards for Political Polling

Standards for Minimal Disclosure

Good professional practice imposes the obligation upon all public opinion researchers to include, in any report of research results, or to make available when that report is released, certain essential information about how the research was conducted. At a minimum, the following items should be disclosed:

1. Who sponsored the survey, and who conducted it.

2. The exact wording of questions asked, including the text of any preceding instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondents that might reasonably be expected to affect the response.

3. A definition of the population under study, and a description of the sampling frame used to identify this population.

4. A description of the sample selection procedure, giving a clear indication of the method by which the respondents were selected by the researcher, or whether the respondents were entirely self-selected.

5. Size of samples and, if applicable, completion rates and information on eligibility criteria and screening procedures.

6. A discussion of the precision of the findings, including, if appropriate, estimates of sampling error, and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used. Which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than on the total sample.

7. Method, location, and dates of data collection.

The next time you see a survey that doesn’t include most of these supporting elements, you might want to view it with some suspicion. Like maybe, that mayoral poll that came out last week.


ACM said...

from the Inquirer article:
The telephone survey of 400 registered Philadelphia voters was conducted Oct. 5 through Oct. 8 by Public Opinion Research Inc. of Sykesville, Md. Results of the poll, commissioned by a Democratic consultant for various clients in the region, are subject to an error margin of 4 percentage points. The consultant asked to remain anonymous.

so, um, we have some semblance of 1 (if Democratic consultant suffices to give you a sense of the bias), 3, 5, 6, and 7. it's very rare that political poll results (at least newspaper coverage of same) include exact question wording or degree of selection of the respondant pool, although obviously if the pollster hadn't wanted to "remain anonymous" we might have access to more of that information, like Quinnipiac (sp!) gives on its own website. hard to base too much of a conspiracy theory on the gaps, although of course any single poll like this is of dubious values, especially with such a small group called and such a large number of candidates involved...

Anonymous said...

"Some semblance" of following the "minimal" disclosure standards shouldn't really cut it, should it? These standards exist, in part, because reporters have been to careless/eager to report junk polling. Seems like irresponsible reporting to run these results.

Anonymous said...

I work for Public Opinion Research, im a poller. Whenever someone asks who the poll is being paid for by, we are required to not tell them. Even though we really do know. We say 'we are an independent organization'.

eXTReMe Tracker