The Market Research Society (MRS) has strengthened the MRS Code of Conduct and issued new Mobile Research Guidelines to put participants’ privacy and data protection rights front and centre to address increasing public concern. MRS advises all researchers to pay close attention to the new rules and is seeking feedback to ensure that the MRS Code of Conduct and guidelines continue to provide a robust regulatory framework for all those that conduct, commission or participate in research.
Data collection has become increasingly complex and the updates to the MRS Code aim to simplify the rules to ensure they are clear and as easy to follow as possible for all of those involved in research. With public concern over privacy and data protection at an all-time high, MRS is receiving an increasing number of queries and complaints about data use. The updates to the MRS Code and the new Mobile Research Guidelines ensure MRS leads the sector in self-regulation; responding to the need for greater transparency and protection of data.
The Mobile Research Guidelines are the first international rules issued by MRS in collaboration with AMSRS in Australia, and CASRO in the US. Drafted to recognise the character and increasing importance of mobile research, the guidelines provide global standards and best practices across a range of areas, from sample sourcing to geotargeting, while also offering specific advice on national rules and legislation. They also seek to establish ethical principles that research organisations can apply to specific technologies and research methods to ensure they can continue to benefit from the new methods as they emerge and develop.
What do the Code updates mean for researchers?
There are now much clearer requirements on what researchers need to do to ensure that they have obtained participants’ informed consent – ensuring they are completely transparent about what data is going to be collected and how it will be stored, managed and used. In addition, there are new rules to protect an individual’s anonymity and to require researchers to be clear about what information can and cannot be used when it has come from a source other than the individual.
MRS has future-proofed the Code with rules that are technology and methodology neutral to accommodate all likely changes in data collection. The updates also include a clearer requirement for administering incentives and a replacement of ‘respondent’ with ‘participant’, reflecting the increasing use of passive data collection techniques in the research process.
Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, said: “Some 58% of enquiries to MRS’ Codeline advisory service last year were from people concerned over data collection methods highlighting action is necessary to tackle these concerns. We must also recognise the dramatic speed of change in research and, with the sector contributing £3 billion to the UK economy every year, ensure the rules are updated to protect the sector’s long-term success.
“New innovations, such as social media, big data and the growth of digital and mobile research, provide new opportunities but this must be balanced with the need to properly protect participants and research suppliers.
“The research sector that MRS represents has been at the forefront of ethical personal data collection and use for decades and these updates complement the Fair Data mark we launched earlier this year to help the public easily identify between those organisations which collect, use and retain personal data properly and ethically, and those that do not. Our action will ensure the sector can continue to take advantage of new developments while maintaining the standards and professionalism that all have come to expect.”
Jeff Resnick, Global Managing Director, Innovation and Strategy, ORC International, said: “Mobile research is becoming an increasingly essential component of research methodology. Therefore, it is imperative that research conducted using this methodology meets the spirit of guidelines and codes established by our industry concerning confidentiality and ethical behaviour. By its very nature, mobile research is a global issue which requires the convergence of opinion and practice by our industry’s global national associations. The new Mobile Research Guidelines achieve this objective and now set the global standard for mobile research.”
More information on the Mobile Research Guidelines can be found at: https://www.mrs.org.uk/pdf/2013-08-30%20Draft%20AMSRS%20CASRO%20MRS%20Mobile%20Research%20Guidelines.pdf.
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