Peace Polls

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Research Ethics

Ethical principles Survey researchers in general and those conducting peace polls in particular need to follow certain broad principles in conducting their research:

  1. Peace polls conducted for public consumption should be impartial and non-partisan. Peace polls are scientific research designed to collect data and report information on conflicts. They are not tools for partisan advocacy. Such neutrality can be achieved by systematically engaging with all the parties to the conflict through each and every aspect of the research including research program and questionnaire design, sampling and interviews, analysis of results, and dissemination.
  2. Methods should be transparent, public, and well-documented. These goals can be achieved by publicly describing the methods prior to conducting the peace poll and by adhering to the standards of minimal disclosure delineated on the 'Peace poll methods and disclosure' page. It is also recommended that when the peace poll is used for analysis, the data set (without individual identifiers) along with appropriate survey documentation be deposited in public archives and/or on web sites for general access.
  3. Data collectors must adopt study designs for their peace polls that are suitable for producing accurate and reliable results and that follow specific procedural and technical standards stipulated in this document.
  4. When reporting results from peace polls, data collectors and analysts must be careful to keep their interpretations and statements fully consistent with the data. Speculation and commentary should not be labelled as data-based reporting. Limitations and weaknesses in the design of a peace poll, its execution, and the results must be noted in all reports and analysis. Results should be released to the public and other interested parties through the general media and simultaneously made accessible to all.
  5. The identity of respondents in peace polls must be protected. No identifying information (e.g. name, address, or other IDs) should be maintained with the sample records, and the data set should not allow deductive disclosure of respondents' identity. To limit the chances of deductive disclosure, small-area geographic details should not be revealed.
  6. When undertaking polls in conflict settings, as much effort must be put into protecting those doing the interviews as is done for the respondents. However, unlike those being interviewed the researchers can be best protected from harm through full disclosure and transparency. Any effort to hide the intention, source of funding or those directly and indirectly involved in doing the research and for what purpose can put the fieldworker at risk. For these reasons the preamble to the questionnaire should be agreed to by all the parties to the conflict, secure and effective lines of communication should be established to the parties to the conflict, and the fieldworkers should have access to such security arrangements through the managers of the research who must take responsibility for their staff.