Complaint OEN549709

Date created
Apr 15, 2021
Date completed
Feb 16, 2022
Region Complainant
Region Defendant

Article 7 Transparency

  • Researchers must design research to the specification and quality agreed with the client and in accordance with Article 9(a).
  • Researchers must ensure that findings and any interpretation of them are clearly and adequately supported by data.
  • Researchers must on request allow clients to arrange for independent checks on the quality of data collection and data preparation.
  • Researchers must provide clients with sufficient technical information about the research to enable them to assess the validity of the results and any conclusions drawn.
  • When reporting on the results of research, researchers must make a clear distinction between the findings, the researchers’ interpretation of those findings and any conclusions drawn or recommendations made.

Article 9 Professional responsibility

  • Researchers must be honest, truthful and objective and ensure that their research is carried out in accordance with appropriate scientific research principles, methods and techniques.
  • Researchers must always behave ethically and must not do anything that might unjustifiably damage the reputation of research or lead to a loss of public confidence in it.
  • Researchers must be straightforward and honest in all of their professional and business dealings.
  • Researchers must not unjustifiably criticise other researchers.
  • Researchers must not make false or otherwise misleading statements about their skills, experience or activities, or about those of their organisation.
  • Researchers must conform to the generally accepted principles of fair competition.

Public Resolution

Feb 16, 2022

This complaint concerned an issue of quality control between two ESOMAR members, based in Russia and China respectively. There was also a documented breakdown of communication between the parties, as well as concerns with regards to data protection regulations.

The Disciplinary Sub Committee (hereafter the Committee), upon review, concluded and advised the following:

As per Art.7c of the ICC/ESOMAR Code (the Code), researchers must allow clients to conduct quality control checks upon request to allow full transparency. However, Art.6 of the Code also requires strict considerations to be taken with regards to privacy and data protection. The Committee understand that this is an area that can raise concerns during research projects, especially as countries introduce more stringent regulations for international transfers of data.

The Committee advise all members to clearly state at the outset of any contractual discussions the limitations imposed on the transfer of personal data, along with assigning responsibility in the event of any concerns with regards to the quality of research. If particular steps must be taken to permit the transfer of personal data, companies should either clearly state these steps to the other party, or find an alternative means that does not necessitate the transfer of personal data.
The Committee hold that disputes can be avoided be ensuring these terms are clearly stated in the contract between parties, and remind members that they will not assign legal responsibility in such matters.

Further to this, the Committee reviewed extensive email communications between both parties, which displayed a lack of the professionalism and courtesy expected of ESOMAR members as per Art.9 of the Code. The Committee noted multiple instances of unclear communication, poor language, and a lack of mutual respect between the two parties. This falls below the standard of professionalism expected of members, and if repeated may bring disrepute to the sector as a whole.

The Committee remind all members to maintain respect in their communications, and ensure that all facts are communicated clearly and transparently. Clear communication is vital to a working business relationship, particularly when dealing with cross-border projects, and can prevent any breakdown of the relationship as in this instance.

The Committee decided to take no action against the respondent in this instance, however a warning letter was sent to the respondent outlining the above points.