New draft ESOMAR/GRBN Guidelines for Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults – Participate in the consultation

A digital consultation process for the new ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on Research and Data Analytics with Children, Young People and Vulnerable Individuals has been launched. To participate in the consultation please use the Multivote platform on which the consultation is hosted. The consultation will also be accessible via the GRBN website.

It is possible to create an account on Multivote, or to login using your Facebook, Gmail or Twitter account. On the platform you will find a link to the new guideline, and you can click on “Leave your comment” to post short feedback (300 words). A longer explanation of your feedback can be given via a comment on the feedback. You are invited to also upvote and/or comment on the feedback left by others.

By using Multivote, ESOMAR and GRBN wish to provide the global research, insights and data analytics community with a more transparent and engaging guideline consultation process. We hope that you will join and participative actively in the online consultation and on other joint guideline consultations in the future.

The online consultation for the guideline closes on 28 February 2018. After that, ESOMAR and GRBN will review all feedback and update the guideline as appropriate.

WHICH NORMS? Industry Regulation Update 0/5 (1)

Research regulation and guidelines are being updated. GRBN and ESOMAR have been cooperating since the inception of the former on international ethical standards in order to develop the applicability of the ICC/ESOMAR Code as a global standard and asset of our industry. Nowadays, we are developing and publishing the Guidelines that complement the new version of the Code that was launched in January 2017. Some of the guidelines are generic and principles based and apply across methodologies and practices, such as the ‘Duty of Care’ and the ‘Research with Children and Young, and other Vulnerable People’. Other guidelines are specific to a certain methodology, such as the ‘Online Research Guideline’ and the ‘Mobile Research Guideline’.

To develop a guideline ESOMAR’s Professional Standards Committee (PSC), in agreement with GRBN, establishes a project team of experts and practitioners on the subject. After a first draft is ready it will be tabled at ESOMAR’s PSC meeting and Legal Affairs Committee meeting. After review from the committees, it will then be sent to ESOMAR and GRBN members for consultation. After consultation period, comments will be discussed by the project team and incorporated in a new final draft. When the draft is agreed, the guideline will be launched.


GRBN and ESOMAR have been working on the following guidelines in 2017 recently released.

ESOMAR/GRBN Mobile Research Guideline

This guideline aligns global policies with developing regulations and technology and the latest international developments for best practice in this area. Mobile research is a rapidly evolving field and a growing market that accounts for $1.8bn global annual turnover and is widely used in advanced as well as developing economies. You can access the guideline from here.

ESOMAR Data Protection Checklist

The Checklist was slightly updated with one extra question to get it aligned with the new ICC/ESOMAR Code; a full revision will be made next year after e-privacy and other regulation initiatives will be available. The checklist translates data privacy regulations into everyday terms used by researchers to guide them on their responsibilities within a global data protection framework and helps them identify if there are gaps in their company’s privacy protections.


A first draft for the following guidelines is ready for consultation. It will be sent to all ESOMAR members, GRBN members and all other relevant stakeholders for review and comments.

ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on the Duty of Care

This guideline helps researchers to distinguish market research from other non-research activities and it deals with how to prevent harm to individuals participating in research projects. The aim of this guideline is to ensure that regulators and the general public keep their confidence in research and to ensure that they do not confuse research with profiling or tracking for other purposes.

ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on Research with Children and Young People

This guideline sets the ethical international standards when involving children, young people and vulnerable people in research. Its principal focus is the ethical and legal issues involved, rather than the technical problems of such research. Thus, respect to the welfare of individual data subjects is the overriding consideration.



It is still not fully clear what main issues researchers are facing when working with data from various sources, including data collected for other purposes but then used in big data research project. To establish what kind of guidance would be most relevant to the industry a discussion paper was drafted, which was presented and discussed at ESOMAR Congress by an expert team of more than 50 researchers and specialist lawyers. This paper reviews the key ethical, legal, technical and data quality challenges researchers face when working with these new data sources. Its goal is to start a conversation among researchers aimed at clarifying their responsibilities to those whose data we use in research, the clients we serve and the general public. After the Congress meeting this guidance will be developed further in the most appropriate form.


A few years ago ESOMAR issued a document with the 24 questions buyers of social media research should ask. With the changes in technology in this field and the increased possibilities of using artificial intelligence or machine learning, this document needs to be updated to include these issues. A project team of GRBN and ESOMAR experts will start the review in October.


The above-mentioned Data Protection Checklist will be reviewed in the light of updates to the legal requirements and technological possibilities. The review will start once there is more clarity on the legal framework and start in 2018.


This is a third fundamental principles-based guideline that works across methodologies. The 2010 guideline on the mutual rights and responsibilities of researchers and clients will need to be updated in light of the new Code. The work on this guideline will start early 2018.


Enrique Domingo

EMB member of GRBN

Chair Professional Standards Committee of ESOMAR

ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline For Mobile Research Launched


Today ESOMAR and GRBN launch their joint Guideline for Mobile Research for the market, opinion and social research and data analytics sector. This new Guideline aligns global policies with developing regulations and technology and the latest international developments for best practice in this area. Mobile research is a growing market that currently accounts for $1.8bn global annual turnover and is widely used in advanced as well as developing economies.

Mobile research is a rapidly evolving field which ranges from calling or texting respondents to ask them questions, to participants videoing how they perform daily tasks such as cooking and more recently, to collecting data generated by mobile devices such as geo-location data, all to provide researchers with richer insights about attitudes and behaviour. ESOMAR and GRBN therefore decided to update guideline that was issued by ESOMAR in cooperation with MMRA in 2012, and the separate GRBN guideline which was based upon guidance developed by the national associations from the UK, US and Australia. This new guideline is designed to help researchers address legal, ethical and practical considerations in using new technologies when conducting mobile research.

The text has been drafted by a team of international experts to ensure that it incorporates the latest practices of mobile research, so that the new Guideline takes into account the continuing innovation in technology that has created information sources that are relevant to research. These include:

  • Passive data collection including biometric data, photos and recordings and instore tracking
  • Passive data collection including biometric data, photos and recordings and instore tracking
  • Mystery shopping through camera and video Data that may have been collected for a non-research purpose which is used in research including geolocation data from mobile providers, or usage data from app providers

The Guideline recognises that a range of third parties can be involved as subcontractors in data collection, preparation, analysis, storage and delivery. It also takes into account emerging data privacy regulations and the need to treat phone users with due respect and consideration.

Finn Raben, Director General of ESOMAR said:

“With the omnipresence of smartphones and other mobile technologies, it is of utmost importance that the our sector is effectively expressing our traditional values of respect for individuals and scientific integrity in new and emerging mobile research methods. In this Guideline, ESOMAR and GRBN have tried to do exactly that, although we also recognise that this is not likely to be the last you will hear from us on this important topic”

Andrew Cannon, Executive Director of the Global Research Business Network, added:

“The use of mobile research methods will continue to grow, and we are delighted that we have improved guidance for practitioners by successfully reconciled two existing mobile research guidelines into the one authoritative document. We expect that this update will be one of many as the legal and ethical parameters of mobile research continue to evolve”



ESOMAR is the global voice of the data, research and insights community, speaking on behalf of over 5000 individual professionals and more than 500 companies who provide or commission data analytics and research in more than 130 countries, all of whom agree to uphold the ICC/ESOMAR International Code. Together with national and international research associations, we set and promote professional standards and self-regulation for our sector and encourage, advance and advocate the role and value of data analytics, market and opinion research in illuminating real issues and bringing about effective decision-making.

The ICC/ESOMAR Code and all ESOMAR guidelines are available on

For further information contact Finn Raben at

About GRBN

Global Research Business Network, GRBN, connects 4 regional federations, over 40 national market, social and opinion research associations and over 3500 research businesses on six continents. GRBN’s mission is to promote and advance the business of research by developing and supporting strong autonomous national research associations.

More information about GRBN and its initiatives can be found at

For further information contact Andrew Cannon at

Revving up to Revising ISO 20252


Over three days in April, research experts and standards experts representing many countries, standards industry bodies, and research associations participated in a Working Group session to update and re-shape the main ISO standard for market, opinion and social research, ISO 20252.

Those contributing to the process includes many GRBN associations such as AMSRS (Australia), ANEIMO (Spain), CMRA (China), JMRA (Japan), MRIA (Canada) and MRS (UK).  The regional GRBN federations of ARIA and EFAMRO are also involved together with other associations such as ESOMAR, and WAPOR.

The aim of the revision is to improve navigability with clearly defined, separate areas to support the various sectors within the market, social, and opinion research industry. The ISO updating process will take at least one more year, and research service suppliers working towards certification to either ISO 20252 or ISO 26362 should continue their efforts.

All the current requirements from ISO 20252 and ISO 26362 will be incorporated in the new combined 20252 standard.  There will also be some new additions that reflect the changes in research practices, including leading edge technologies that have emerged since the ISO 20252 standard was last finalised in 2012. By ensuring that existing ISO obligations are being met, research service providers will be much better prepared to adapt their systems to the new requirements once the revised ISO 20252 standard has been finalized.

As before, this standard covers topics such as project management requirements, proposals and tenders, and project execution for various methodological components of research such as sampling, fieldwork, observation, self-completion, data management, and processing. The improved and updated standard will be formalized, translated, and made available to the global research industry in all likelihood sometime in 2018.

The, will continue to be used to keep stakeholders updated about the changes to the standards, and all news will be reported by social media. To keep up to date, follow the ISO 20252 associated Twitter account,

The New ICC ESOMAR International Code. Notes on Data Analytics, How to Implement and Discipline 5/5 (1)


The last Annual General Meeting of ESOMAR members on 19th September overwhelmingly approved (1) the revised and updated version of the international code that has been self-regulating the research sector since 1946: the new ICC ESOMAR International Code on Market, Opinion and Social Research and Data Analytics.

Together with the ISO 20252 standard for Market, Opinion and Social Research they form an international framework of ethical and quality standards which support self-regulation of research to regulators, markets and citizens. Apart from being binding on ESOMAR members, the current ICC/ESOMAR Code is adopted or endorsed by over 60 associations around the world; demonstrating our sector’s commitment to international professional standards that safeguard the rights of participants, clients and researchers.

The ICC/ESOMAR Code has been redrafted with the extensive input of partner associations, client companies and global agencies and the unanimous view expressed at the AGM was that it’s a far better ICC?ESOMAR Code for the current times, and one designed to meet the needs of our constantly evolving profession.

Data Analytics: A New Research Reality

The revised ICC/ESOMAR Code establishes how the research ethical principles adapt to the new digital application of research practice. This involves all research analytics that are applied today to data obtained from: social media, web communications, mobile input, wearables, smart watches, in-store tracking and beacons, geo-location, in app measurement, online communities, facial coding and biometrics, virtual reality, digital fingerprinting, etc. All of which can help provide faster and better insights to decision makers.

In this way it will help researchers active in this growing area to solve their ethical queries, expanding the scope also to the new Data Analytics professional community entering the research profession via the Information Technology door. As an inclusive initiative, it will show how the research ICC/ESOMAR Code has basic principles that apply to the new players when performing research activities, for an ethically responsible practice of research.

Whilst most of this work is technology based, and might appear to be different from the more traditional survey-based work, the collation, analysis and interpretation of existing data are a fundamental part of Data Analytics, falling within the remit of the Code principles that researchers worldwide commit to adhere to, whatever the source of data. The ICC/ESOMAR Code will help ensure that researchers all over the world continue to conduct research ethically, professionally and with respect for the individuals whose personal data is included in research, whilst using the latest methodologies and techniques.

Adapting to New Regulation

The text is also intended to reflect the evolution in privacy legislation. As the profession evolves, then so must the Code. The updated text aligns the application of the myriad of new methodologies and techniques introduced over the past decade with research long-standing ethos and latest regulators input. From the new primary sources (including passive data collection with and without consent) to the secondary data, (i.e.: data collected for another purpose -e.g. social media data- and subsequently used in research), the ICC/ESOMAR Code has been written to align also with OECD Privacy Principles for Data Protection, to comply with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation and to conform with the requirements of Fair Processing in the US.

The broader range of data used in research, as well as latest legal developments are now reflected in the Code, with the intention to help include new practitioners and to meet the changing needs of different categories of professional practice.

Key changes from the current Code

The ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market, Opinion and Social Research and Data Analytics has been drafted by an extensive group of research practitioners, associations and privacy experts. Here are the highlights:

  1. The fundamental principles do not change e.g. transparency, protect data, behave ethically, do no harm.
  2. The definition of research includes new forms of data analytics used for research purposes: examining data sets to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, trends and preferences has always been a fundamental part of what researchers do.
  3. The obligations for primary data collected by researchers are differentiated from secondary data (social media, mobile in app, Internet of Things etc.)
  4. The articles are re-ordered to clearly highlight responsibilities to data subjects, clients, the general public and the research profession.

The exploration of the new opportunities offered by social media and other types of digital data has resulted in differentiation of obligations with regards to primary data and secondary data (Articles 4 and 5), to specifically cover the fast growing use of data that may have been collected for another purpose but is then used in research.

In summary, the Code highlights the responsibilities of researchers to ensure that data is collected and used in a professional, responsible and ethical way. The bright red line remains being transparent to data subjects, not sharing personal data without consent and taking responsibility for data storage, security and transfer.

Revision of Guidelines

As a next step ESOMAR will need to review the application of the Code identifying appropriate Guidelines. The Guidelines revision will be undertaken as a joint collaboration with GRBN. A plan to produce a clearer and more simplified approach is being designed. In the coming months, a revised list of Guidelines, to explain in more detail how to implement the ICC/ESOMAR Code in most research areas and contexts, will be issued. Areas to cover include: duty of care/no harm, personal data treatment for primary data collection including passive data and use of secondary data such as social media, IoT or client databases as ‘big data’.

The role of national Associations

The Code is International in nature but is applied in the markets by those associations that adopt and endorse it at the national level, where projects are carried out and services and rendered. In that respect it also recognizes specificity at the local markets, where national Codes exist and will prevail.

Project SERENE

In parallel with the new Code, ESOMAR has been working on a project to create an online platform for Code interpretation, solving queries and applying disciplinary procedures consistently throughout the world. The platform is designed to be a knowledge center for the sector an will be available for all national associations that adopt and endorse the Code, as well as for those that abide by a national jurisdiction Code, to work together on a consistent implementation of the principles, to build up collectively the practical evidence of our effective self regulation.

The way our sector continues to evolve from ‘traditional’ research to the digitally automated research of the future remains unpredictable. We think the new Code gives account of the changes impacting our sector in the last decade and is fit for the purpose today and in the coming years. For how long will it be relevant is difficult to say; will it be another 10 years time while AI and automation of interaction with individuals may have evolved enough to force a new revision? Will it be 5 years? We will have to be alert to trends and anticipating next changes to verify that the Code continues to be fit for purpose.

You can read a final version of the revised ICC/ESOMAR International Code available here, to check out the new Code and the changes that have been made to make it fresher, easier to read and more appealing to the wider community of market, opinion, and social research and data analytics.

For further information contact ESOMAR Professional Standards at:

* It was ratified in referendum by full membership later during the month of October.

 Debrah_Harding_MRS  Enrique_Domingo

Debrah Harding

Enrique Domingo






Winning Advice


On 14th June 2016, I will be joining Mario Callegaro of Google and Enrique Domingo, ESOMAR PSC Chair and GRBN Board Member, to present a webinar on using incentives and sweepstakes in international online research.  The webinar stems from the joint GRBN and ESOMAR guidance issued in 2015 within the ESOMAR/GRBN Online Research Guideline 

Incentives and sweepstakes are widely used to encourage participation in online research projects but differing regulatory frameworks around the globe can create confusion about how they should be handled. The webinar will provide: researchers with valuable advice about researchers’ responsibilities when using incentives in international research projects; how to avoid some of the legal pitfalls; providing research-based practical guidance on what works best to improve response rates.

In particular speakers will cover:

  • Best practices: what are your professional responsibilities
  • What you need to be aware of when using incentives and sweepstakes
  • Research on research: what works and what doesn’t
  • How to make best uses of incentives

Click here to register for the webinar.


Debrah Harding

GRBN Treasurer and Secretary

31st May 2016

New ESOMAR-GRBN joint guidelines issued on Online Research

Online Research

In order to help researchers get the most out of the new ESOMAR GRBN Online Research Guideline, we will be running, together with ESOMAR, two webinars on specific issues within the guideline:

14th June: Webinar on incentives, sweepstakes and free prize draws

28th June: Webinar on sample source and management

Reg Baker, co-chair of the working party, shares his thoughts on guideline and what it offers researchers….

In December of last year ESOMAR and GRBN released a Guideline for Online Research. This update of earlier guidance developed jointly by CASRO and ESOMAR and describes how to apply the fundamental ethical principles of market, opinion, and social research in the context of the current legal frameworks and regulatory environments around the world. Its objective is to support researchers, especially those in small and medium-sized research organisations, in addressing the legal, ethical, and practical considerations when using new technologies to conduct research online.

The guideline describes researchers’ responsibilities to three broad audiences.

The first is research participants. Here it underscores the importance of avoiding activities and practices that might discourage research participation by blurring the line between research and marketing/sales. It reaffirms the fundamental importance of honesty, consent, the voluntary nature of research, and the need for researchers to ensure that participants suffer no adverse consequences as a result of their participation. It also provides practical advice on email and text solicitation practices, the use of incentives, and passive data collection where there may be no direct interaction with those from whom data are collected.

This last issue of passive data collection (e.g. web browsing data, loyalty cards, geo-location data from connected devices, social media data) has become especially important as researchers increasing look to these sources for insight. The guideline describes specific practices to employ when working with these kinds of data.

When describing responsibilities to clients, the guideline underscores the critical need for both parties to rigorously protect personal data and the fundamental importance of researchers being fully transparent in all phases of the research, but especially in reporting. There also is a section on methodological quality specifying the information that should be routinely shared with clients to allow them to assess the reliability of findings.

The final audience is the general public. Here it highlights the importance of always behaving in such a way that public confidence in research is not undermined. It provides guidance on the sometimes difficult task of working jointly with clients to ensure that any published results are not misleading and that any technical information needed to assess the validity of published findings is made available.

There also is guidance on a variety of specific issues that researchers are likely to encounter when doing online research. They include best practices when doing research with children, the use of online identification and tracking technologies when working with panels, mobile research, social media research, the handling of new forms of personal data such as photographs and videos, cloud storage, anonymisation and pseudonymisation techniques, and uses of paradata. The guideline concludes with a list of unacceptable practices that if used would be considered spyware.

Additional project teams are already at work on new global guidelines to help researchers navigate the increasingly complex legal and ethical environments in which we work. Look for new joint ESOMAR/GRBN guidelines on social media research and mobile research later this year.


Reg Baker

Executive Director, Marketing Research Institute International and

Consultant to ESOMAR Professional Standards Committee

Global guideline launched to highlight researchers’ responsibilities when conducting online research

Online Research Guidelines launched

The market and social research sector has published updated guidance for researchers, providing advice in addressing legal, ethical, methodological and practical considerations in the use of existing and new technologies for online research, a growing global market worth nearly $10bn.

Best practice guidance

This updated Guideline for Online Research, published by ESOMAR (the World Association for Social, Opinion and Market Research) and GRBN (the Global Research Business Network) provides best practice based guidance to help ensure that researchers who execute research online remain sensitive to consumer concerns about privacy and avoid activities and technology practices that risk undermining public confidence in market research.

Clarification of researcher’s responsibilities

The rapid growth of online research has seen continual developments in technology and in the types and variety of digital data that can be collected. Researchers have always been called upon to ensure that participants are not harmed or adversely affected by participating in a research project. This Guideline clarifies researchers’ responsibilities when using new and possibly less obvious ways of collecting data.

Impact of new technologies

New technologies now make it possible to collect a broad range of personal data without direct interaction with the individuals whose data are collected. Examples of such personal data include web browsing data, loyalty card and store scanner data, geo-location data from mobile devices as well as social media data. The Guideline addresses the requirement for explicit consent in situations where researchers collect personal data from participants in research panels and mobile applications. This is particularly important for mobile apps utilising geo-location, passive listening, and/or metering. The Guideline also specifies requirements for researchers to protect the privacy and security of any personal data collected.

The need for transparency

Andrew Cannon, Executive Director of the Global Research Business Network, said: “The GRBN global survey into Trust and Personal Data informed us that, across the globe, the vast majority of people are concerned about the protection and appropriate use of their personal data, with many considering their digital data to be sensitive. In this environment, it is paramount that the research industry is transparent in its dealings with the general public and fosters a trust-based relationship: These guidelines provide invaluable guidance to any researchers who conduct online research.”

A must READ

In addition to addressing technology and related personal data issues, the Guideline addresses researcher relationships and responsibilities to clients and the general public as well as best practices for methodological quality, including data collection management and transparency. The Guideline is recommended reading for all stakeholders in the research process, from research and survey designers to data users.

Watch this space

Finn Raben, Director General of ESOMAR, adds: “Concerns about online privacy and the collection and use of personal data among both consumers and regulators have never been greater. The long-term viability of the research industry depends on how effectively we express our traditional values of respect for individuals and scientific integrity in new and emerging online research methods. In this Guideline, ESOMAR and GRBN have tried to do exactly that, although we also recognise that this is not likely to be the last you will hear from us on this important topic.”



Global Guidance: GRBN and ESOMAR Leading the Way

GRBN ESOMAR Joint Guidelines

One of GRBN’s key objectives is to improve global research best practice.  In 2014, GRBN joined forces with ESOMAR, agreeing to produce joint guidance, ensuring that comprehensive and consistent global guidance is produced, aiding practitioners in understanding their obligations wherever they are in the world.

Online Sample Quality Guideline issued

The first joint guidance, the Online Sample Quality Guideline, was issued earlier this year,  and was warmly received by the research community. You can access that guideline here. In early June, GRBN and ESOMAR released its second joint document, the draft Guideline for Online Research.

Draft Guideline for Online Research under review

GRBN has been leading the guideline consultation with all 38 member associations that comprise the GRBN.   The deadline for comments ended on Friday 10th July,  and the Project Team, Co-Chaired by Peter Milla, Technical Consultant to CASRO and representing GRBN, and Reg Baker, Consultant to the ESOMAR professional Standards Committee, has begun reviewing the feedback to produce the post-consultation guidance document.

A must for online research practitioners

The new joint guidance will be extremely useful to practitioners conducting online research and explains how to apply some of the fundamental principles of market, social and opinion research in the context of current legal frameworks and regulatory environments around the world.  The objective is to support researchers, especially those in small and medium-sized research organisations, in addressing legal, ethical and practical considerations when conducting research online.  This guidance will complement the national guidance, which has been produced by a number of GRBN member associations, addressing specific domestic legal and ethical issues relating to online research.