Australian Polling Council Introduces New Standards For Public Opinion Polling

Australian Polling Council Introduces New Standards For Public Opinion Polling
B&T Magazine
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The Australian Polling Council is operational from today following the release of its Code of Conduct and Quality Mark, which will see new standards for public opinion polling which is released to the media or which has the potential to influence or impact on public policy.

These new standards will encompass studies evaluating government performance; political leaning; election, plebiscite or referendum outcomes; and those which focus on public policy and societal issues with political implications.

The Australian Polling Council members include nine of Australia’s leading research firms who operate in this space – Essential Media, Ipsos, JWS Research, Lonergan Research, MediaReach, Newgate Research, Omnipoll, UComms, and YouGov.

The Code requires the detailed disclosure of 19 methodological items designed to provide both journalists and the public with confidence that the results of the poll can be trusted. These range from:

• general disclosures such as sample size and the method of data collection (online, robopolling, live telephone etc.),
• detailed information about how the results have been weighted and how participants were
selected for participation,
• exact question wording to be released including details of the format of the questions
presented to participants. This information should be provided to journalists before
publication and made public on the internet within two business days of publication.

Australian Polling Council Chairperson, Dr Campbell White said, “the new standards of disclosure will increase the transparency of Australian polling and will enhance the ability of both polling experts,  and everyday Australians to better understand and trust the polls.”

Any poll which bears the Australian Polling Council Quality Mark is guaranteed to meet these standards.

The Australian Polling Council Quality Mark provides a shorthand for publishers to decide whether research is fit for publication.

The Quality Mark can be used by members of the Australian Polling Council, who are additionally bound to abide by a range of ethical principles including that the polling is free from bias and is not reported in an intentionally misleading manner.

Other members are welcome to join provided they agree to adhere to the Australian Polling Council Code of Conduct.

Dr White added, “public opinion polling plays a crucial role in a healthy democracy, and greater transparency will demonstrate that published research is now more representative and professionally conducted. Journalists and other publishers should insist on these standards being met before publishing polls.”

The full Code of Conduct is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions designed for journalists and publishers are available here.

Featured image source: iStock/NickS

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