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TRADE NEWS: New research codes of conduct published

The body representing market research standards has published a revised code of conduct following a year long consultation.

The revisions to the research code are the first to be made by the MRS Market Research Standards Board (MRSB) since 2005 and are based on a set of 10 new principles which have been extended to cover researchers conducting non-research activities.

The new code of conduct has been drawn up in response to the increased demand for researchers' skills and techniques by clients across the public and private sector in fields including policy development, marketing, regulation and quality control.

The new MRS code of conduct sets out the legal and ethical responsibilities for researchers in conducting all their research and non-research activities and includes several new rules for research, including the use of incentives in research interviewing.

From 1 April 2010, the MRS code will include a new rule that prevents clients' goods or services, or vouchers to purchase these, from being used as incentives in a research project.

Any project using such incentives will no longer be classified as purely research: new MRS Incentive guidelines have been developed to assist research practitioners with managing this change.

The new MRS Code also recognises fundamental changes in data collection by incorporating new definitions for what constitutes an ‘interview' and a ‘data collection process'.

Geoff Gosling, chair of the MRS Market Research Standards Board, comments, "As a self-regulating sector it is crucial that the research code reflects the concerns of those commissioning research and conducting research whilst at the same time protecting respondents who participate in research. 

"The MRS code of conduct is founded on the principles of transparency and consent, and these principles have been retained whilst acknowledging some major societal, legal and technological changes ensuring the code is robust and fit-for-purpose for the 21st century."