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Code of Conduct

Key Research Stages - Before Fieldwork

G. Preparing the Sample

Sample Size


The size of the sample should be appropriate to meet the market research objectives. If the sample size is unnecessarily large, the market research may be considered a promotional vehicle.

Over-Researching MR subjects


Researchers should manage and monitor the frequency with which potential MR subjects participate in market research and try to avoid over-researching individuals.

Drawing a Sample from a List


Lists that are drawn from sources readily available within the public domain do not generally require the consent of the individuals listed to have their personal details held (all of the data MUST be drawn from the public domain).

So if for instance a list of healthcare professionals (HCPs) was drawn up from health centre websites that listed the HCPs working there, this would not require the HCPs prior consent, and if these details are passed to another contractually linked party.   

If a list containing personal data that is not in the public domain e.g. a list of detailed physicians was passed to an agency to allow them to draw a sample from it, as long as the agency is contractually linked to the client company and the physicians had given consent for their details to be used for market research then this does not require the consent of the listed individuals.

If however local law/regulations demand that the explicit consent of those on the list is required before their personal details are passed on as in Italy, this MUST be complied with.   In Italy, data that is used that is not publicly available should be ‘certifiable’ – those that hold the data MUST have the consent of the individual and evidence of how they obtained the data.  It is also strongly recommended by EphMRA that the responsibilities of list suppliers are made explicit and agreed to in writing within some form of project agreement, such as the contract.

If the list contains information not in the public domain, those listed MUST give consent for their personal data to be held and told why their personal data is being held.


Anonymity of MR subjects Drawn from Lists


The client company MUST NOT be informed of the identity of market research participants, i.e. who on the list was interviewed.

Do Not Contact Status


MR subjects that have chosen to opt-out of, or not be contacted for, market research must be excluded.

Revealing the Source of a List


When lists of named individuals are used for sample selection, the source of the list should be revealed to potential MR subjects.  The source of the list MUST be revealed to potential MR subject(s) at an appropriate point in the interview, if it is requested.  In Germany MR industry guidelines state that MR subjects MUST be told the client company’s identity if the client company supplied their name.  This can be given at the end of the interview rather than the beginning, but it MUST be given.  In Finland, a researcher MUST NOT disclose the identity of the sponsor (unless legally required to do so) to any third party without the consent of the sponsor.

Correcting Listed Information


If list details are missing or incorrect, the supplier of the list may be told this but corrected details cannot be passed back to the list supplier to update their databases without specific consent. However it is allowable to pass back the personal details of those who have:

  • Died or moved away – so they may be removed from the list
  • Asked that their details should be marked ‘do not contact’ or removed from the list
  • Agreed to be re-contacted for specific follow up

Adding Personal Data to a Database


Personal data can be added to the database only if the MR subject is told of this intention at the time of data collection except in Germany. MR subjects MUST also be told why and for what purposes the data will be used, and that under no circumstances will it be released or used for any non-research purpose.

  • An entry recording that a particular individual was interviewed or contacted on a given survey, or that they do not wish to be contacted for further research, is permitted if the purpose of the entry is solely to ensure that that individual will not be unnecessarily approached for research at some later date except in Germany.

The MR subject has the right to request the deletion of any or all of their personal data from the database at any time.

Return or Destruction of Client Databases or MR subject Details


Client databases MUST be returned to the client or destroyed at the end of the project. MR subject requests to have their personal data removed from a list or database must be respected.

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