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Weinheim Declaration

Transparency and quality remain the essential requirements for secure and reliable results as well as for trustful cooperation among customers, institutes, service providers and respondents.

Berlin, 5 February 2018On the 2nd of February 2018, the annual meeting of the German market and social research associations (the so-called "Weinheimer Gespraeche", based on the first meeting in 1991 in Weinheim) took place in Berlin. ADM, ASI, BVM and DGOF discussed the roles of quality and transparency in market and social research as well as legal frameworks such as the new General Data Protection Regulation GDPR, the EU ePrivacy Regulation for the protection of electronic communications and standardisation issues.

As a central result of the meeting, the associations agreed that high-quality market and social research can only succeed if process quality is ensured throughout the following steps of the research process:

1.   The rules of market and social research are indispensable. The principles of scientific research, anonymisation and separation of non-research related activities are crucial and must be considered in all process steps.

2.   Preparation takes time. An appropriate project briefing and a critical discussion of questionnaires and research objective between the client and the institute are the basic prerequisites for the success of a project.

3.   The choice of method is crucial, and it must adequately reflect the research question. The survey type, interview duration and quality of stimuli have direct impact on the quality of the results. The project budget must be appropriate with regards to the method and sample size.

4.   Interviewers are central to survey research. They must be sufficiently qualified regarding their social skills, the study-specific subject as well as linguistically. They must be suitably recruited, trained, instructed, and paid.

5.   Respondents are important partners in the research process. Sincerity during the contact phase, a fair and open exchange on the aim of the analysis, as well as communication at eye-level affect the willingness to participate in a current project and in future surveys. Designing the survey questions as well as conducting and navigating the interviews must be done with the greatest care. Unnecessary effort and stress for the respondent must be avoided.

6.   Field work determines data quality. The basis of high-quality field work is ensured by a realistic appraisal of what is feasible, sufficient field time, internal controls of the interview process and the collected data as well as thorough external checks.

7.   Evaluation and interpretation of the data must tackle the research question in a theory- and hypotheses-based manner. This includes a critical evaluation of the results’ validity.

8.   Data protection creates acceptance and trust. The essential feature of market and social research studies is the protection of respondents' data. Respondents must be able to trust that their information will be evaluated anonymously and only for the purpose of the respective study.

9.   Transparency and documentation. Projects must be comprehensible. Therefore, their implementation and the generation of results must be documented comprehensively and transparently both internally and for the client.

In order to concretise and optimise these quality-relevant steps in the research process, the market and social research associations will take the following steps:

  • Communicating clearly regarding existing methodological, professional, ethical and legal requirements, also on the basis of concrete case studies.
  • Revision and amendment of existing quality standards, manuals and checklists (inter alia, using the DIN Spec 91368) and of the guidelines (in particular with regard to EU GDPR and new collection and evaluation procedures). One focal point will be to develop specific handouts for the award of contracts, external plausibility checks and review options for various survey types.
  • Sanctions will be adjusted, for instance with regard to the right to sue, the exclusion of association members and the Complaints Office / Council of Market and Social Research (“Rat der Markt- und Sozialforschung”). The associations of market and social research in Germany would like to invite all stakeholders, i.e. institutes, clients and the public, to participate: Please use this complaint mechanism in cases of suspicion or dispute and of ethical or legal nature!
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Trust in the results of market and social research depends on quality. The associations of market and social research in Germany see it as their duty to ensure this quality. To achieve this goal, we seek the support of all involved stakeholders. Clients, institutes and the public – in a joint effort – can succeed in upholding our principle: Providing facts to rely on.

Signed by:

ADM Arbeitskreis Deutscher Markt- und Sozialforschungsinstitute e.V.

ASI Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialwissenschaftlicher Institute e.V.

BVM Berufsverband Deutscher Markt- und Sozialforscher e.V.

DGOF Deutsche Gesellschaft für Online-Forschung e.V.

Distributed by:

ADM Arbeitskreis Deutscher Markt- und Sozialforschungsinstitute e.V.
Französische Straße 8
10117 Berlin

Contact: Bettina Klumpe (Managing Director ADM e.V.)
T +49 (0) 30-206 16 38-0
F +49 (0) 30-206 16 38-29