UNL’s Bureau of Sociological Research is a charter member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative.
BOSR joins 12 other organizations that have committed to meeting the guidelines of the initiative, which was launched in October and encourages broader and more effective disclosure of research methods.
Jolene Smyth, the bureau’s director and an associate professor of sociology, said BOSR’s joining the initiative was a natural step.
“It was not a hard process for us,” Smyth said. “We were already doing many of the things that we needed to be doing.”
Bureau staff completed training and committed to meeting the transparency initiative’s requirements for reporting the methodological details of how data are collected.
“It makes us more conscious of it,” Smyth said. “We had a mental checklist and that’s been replaced by a hard copy checklist that we’re going off of.”
The initiative aims to promote understanding of how methodology relates to survey quality; increase adherence to the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices; enable the public to better differentiate between transparent and non-transparent research; and provide information to the public that allows for independent evaluation of survey quality.
“Because data actually affects what happens in society, this has really huge implications,” Smyth said. “So much of our social sciences are based on secondary survey data. We get a big data set, run some analyses and we come up with these findings. Those findings influence how policy decisions are made.”
Smyth said the initiative has already led to more in-depth discussions with clients on methodology and best practices to collect the best possible data. She said she hopes these discussions translate to the media and general public as well.
BOSR was one of the first members because it demonstrates the bureau’s commitment to quality work, she said.
“We are willing to do the extra work because this is something we believe in,” Smyth said.