NEWS3 August 2009

What is ‘research'? CMOR seeks the answer

North America

US— Research industry lobbyist CMOR, part of the Marketing Research Association (MRA), is asking for input on a proposed legal definition of ‘research’.

CMOR’s Government Affairs Committee has set to work on developing one, bearing in mind that definitions of research in US state and federal laws “are few and far between”.

The proposed definition is as follows:

“The term ‘bona fide opinion and market research’ means the collection and analysis of data regarding opinions, needs, awareness, knowledge, views and behaviours of a population, through the administration of surveys, interviews, focus groups, polls, observation, or other research methodologies, in which no sales, promotional or marketing efforts are involved and through which there is no attempt to influence a respondent’s attitudes or behaviour.”

Howard Fienberg, CMOR’s director of government affairs, told Research: “We’ve had success over the years stating what research is not, such as sales, marketing, push polls, etc. But it is important to set the precedent of what it actually is – and that definition can then be referred to from then on in order to protect research in as many forms as necessary.

“We’re always working with legislators to exempt or protect research interests,” he said. “The goal is to encourage the use of this definition to properly lay out what needs exempting or protecting.”

Thoughts and suggestions should be emailed to Fienberg at, or contact the MRA direct through its Twitter page @MRA_National.

Alternatively have your say in our comment space below and we’ll pass on the best responses.



15 years ago

coupla comments - I think the notion of anonymity has been ported into MR and doesn't need to be part of it. And said as much in a thought piece in the IJMR at the end of last year. I would also challenge the 'no attempt to influence' clause - certainly not to try to sell but for us to use research on social media platforms then personal authority aka influence is part of it. I wouldn't be wedded to random sampling of independent individuals in a population - because we may well find a way to recruit through social networks where influence is what keeps messages/surveys moving but we don't sample adjacent individuals for example. Even in existing methodologies we influence attitudes and behaviour - that's why we administer projectives and stimulus.

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15 years ago

The definition is accurate, but very 'procedural'. Would like to see something about the benefits, it's purpose -- furthering understanding to reduce risk and make sound business decisions, enlightening decision-makers about potential opportunities/problems, etc.....

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15 years ago

Agree w/Cathy that this is a bit "procedural" - the entire clause on "through the administration of...." could be cut out with no harm. Doesn't matter how we get the info - the non-promotional collection of data is the core bit.

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