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Code of Conduct

Researchers Responsibilities by Research Approach

S. Telephone Methodology

Unless otherwise stated the guidelines below apply to both telepone research using mobile phones and fixed-line calls.

Naming the Agency/Researcher


To gain the trust of MR subjects without having the benefit of face-to-face contact, the interviewer should give the name of the agency that he/she represents and MUST give their own or an agreed contact name.

Do not call lists

15.2 Do not call lists specific to market research  must be respected.

Special Precautions When Contacting Mobile Phones


Researchers should take special care when contacting MR subjects via mobile phones (whether by voice, text or email), with regard to MR subject safety and privacy:

  • It is recommended that interviews by mobile/WAP phone are preceded with a question such as "is it convenient to proceed with this interview now?"
  • The MR subject should be told the likely length of the interview.
  • It may be more convenient to arrange an appointment to call back at a different time or via a land line.
  • Researchers should try to establish as early as possible if the number to be contacted is that of a mobile or a fixed-line telephone.
  • When calling mobile phones researchers should recognise that even where legislation restricts unsolicited calls for commercial purposes but not market research, it is important to consult and apply any existing research-specific do-not-contact lists for mobile and fixed line phones.

    Use of Unsolicited Texts for Recruitment


    ESOMAR advises against the use of unsolicited text messages to recruit market research study MR subjects and provides a ‘Summary of regulations covering unsolicited contacts (business to consumer)’ May 2013, this is available on the ESOMAR website.

    MR Subject Costs


    If using a mobile phone means the MR subject incurs a cost this should be reimbursed, researchers should ensure that participating in market research does not disadvantage MR subjects financially.

    Use of Apps


    MR subject concent is required for the use of an app and MR subjects MUST be made aware of its purpose, the type of data it collects and its impact on functioning or performance such as degradation of battery life. See also 17.7 and for further details see ESOMAR’s Guideline for Conducting Mobile Market Research.

    It is suggested that legal advice is sought if an app uses a location device or tracks activities without user engagement (e.g. passive listening) to ensure that data protection and privacy rights are not contravened.







    Country Specific Guidance


    Regulations in force in Canada could potentially establish legal liability for researchers contacting potential MR subjects via a mobile device.   In general, researchers must not make unsolicited email approaches to potential participants unless individuals have a reasonable expectation that they may be contacted for market research due to a pre-existing relationship with an organisation.


     In Germany and the UK the use of predictive/auto-diallers is restricted.  In the USA they are permitted only if the MR subject has given prior explicit consent.  When they are used, "abandoned or silent calls”, (i.e. there is no live interviewer) immediately available, are not allowed.



    In Germany telephone interviews that are in any way directly linked with telephone marketing are prohibited.  For further details upon telephone interviewing in Germany see Guidelines on Telephone Surveys published by the German market research organisations.


    In the Netherlands the ‘Onderzoekfilter’ is set up specifically for registering ‘do-not-call’ requests regarding market research.  Research agencies affiliated to the MOA, the FEB and the VSO, the associations of the market and policy research, MUST check the available phone numbers at the ‘Onderzoekfilter’ before starting any unannounced telephone surveys.


    In the USA the CASRO Code of Standards and Ethics requires research organisations to verify that individuals contacted for research by email or text message have a reasonable expectation that they will receive email or text message contact for research (and provide further detail upon what constitutes ‘reasonable expectation’). 



    In the USA the Federal Government has recognised the distinct separation between survey research and telemarketing.  The restrictions included in the 1995 Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and the 2003 National Do Not Call Registry apply to telemarketing and NOT to market research calls.  Under the laws, calls made for sales-related purposes MUST comply with the ‘do-not-call’ request of the person called.  Telephone calls for survey research purposes are not bound by these provisions, although companies should be careful in drawing this line and should be aware of ongoing debate and concern about survey activities by some regulators and legislators.  However, CASRO members maintain internal do-not-call lists of those individuals who have specifically requested not to be contacted by that company for participation in survey research. 

    FCC Regulations (October 2013), permit market reserach calls made to mobile phones using an auto-dialler only with the "prior express consent" of the intented recipient to receive such calls.

    In the USA there is a federal prohibition on calling:
    A doctor’s office or a healthcare facility where the called party is charged for the call or in such a way that 2 or more telephone lines of a multi-line business are engaged simultaneously.
    Cell/mobile phones with an auto-dialler (any equipment capable of dialling a telephone number prior to a live operator being available to exclusively handle the call).
    In addition, operators of automated dialling equipment need to remove any number classified as a public safety answering point (PSAP), in line with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

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