ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Quality Assurance in Survey Research by Self-regulation - The German Model

Frank Faulbaum, Erich Wiegand

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 1 - Law Building, Room 024
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2012-06-04


The quality of research findings is not only determined by classical scientific quality criteria like validity and reliability and how they are observed. Besides these basic methodological requirements the quality of survey research depends on the adher-ence to ethical and professional principles and rules. They form part of the responsi-bility of survey research towards the scientific community, respondents and clients and the general public. Accordingly, the methodological requirements, the ethical and professional principles and the legal framework as well are subject to self-regulation in survey research.
The associations representing market, opinion and social research in Germany have adopted the “ICC/ESOMAR International Code of Market and Social Research” together with a preceding declaration in which the basic principles of survey research – protection of respondents anonymity and differentiation from non-research activities – are emphasized once more. Since the amendment of the German Federal Data Protection Act in 2009 they are not only professional principles but legal norms, too.
In the ICC/ESOMAR Code the ethical and professional principles of survey research are laid down. In a number of complementary directives which have been issued by the German associations of market, opinion and social research it is defined how these principles are to be applied to specific research methods and techniques. Moreover, it is explained in these directives how the relevant legal norms must be observed. Since self-regulation of survey research in Germany is managed jointly by all associations the professional principles and rules form the so-called common practice which means in concrete that they are mandatory for everyone who is con-ducting survey research in Germany.
Self-regulation of survey research is a powerful instrument to avoid unreasonable external regulations. However, self-regulation is accepted by political decision mak-ers only if the professional principles and rules put added value on top of the legal norms and there is a mechanism of enforcement in place. Therefore the associations representing market, opinion and social research in Germany have founded a joint disciplinary council which is able to sanction professional lapses by a public reprimand and notification to the responsible supervisory authorities.

Full Text: Full paper DOCX