NEWS21 August 2009

MRS publishes proposed deliberative guidelines

Features UK

UK— The Market Research Society’s standards board has published proposed guidelines for deliberative and public engagement research.

The guidelines have been developed with the help of deliberative practitioners and are based on the principles of the MRS Code of Conduct, the organisation said in a statement. A three-month consultation period on the proposed guidelines begins today.

The draft guidelines, which supplement existing guidelines for qualitative research, cover commissioning, project design, risk management, stakeholder involvement, materials and reporting of results.

The MRS said: “The guidance was developed in response to the increasing use of deliberative techniques particularly in public sector projects and the need to ensure that evolving methodology and delivery continue to conform to standards set out in the MRS Code of Conduct.”

Geoff Gosling, chair of the Market Research Standards Board, said: “Deliberative research has been hotly debated for some time, so we’re keen to hear views from all interested stakeholders on our proposed way forward. The guidelines under consultation are intended to ensure that all deliberative and public engagement research is undertaken to the highest standards, protecting research practitioners, users and respondents alike.”

In October 2008 the board found Opinion Leader in breach of its code of conduct regarding deliberative work conducted for the UK Government about nuclear power. But the firm refused to accept the board’s ruling, saying: “We do not believe that the MRS – a market research trade body – is competent to assess these new forms of deliberative engagement.”

The MRS ackowledged in its disciplinary statement at that time that deliberative research was “a relatively new technique” for which it had no specific guidelines.

The consultation will run until 20 November. All those with an interest are invited to comment by emailing

The proposed guidelines can be downloaded here.

Involve, a non-profit organisation promoting public participation, published a set of principles for deliberative research in June 2008.