Marketing & Social Research Association – MSRA

MSRA Code of Practice

1. Introduction 2. Definitions 3. General Rules 4. The Rights of Respondents 5. The Professional Responsibilities of Researchers 6. The Mutual Rights and Responsibilities of Researchers and Clients 7. Responsibilities to the General Public and the Business Community 8. Quality Standards For Data Collection


This Code sets out the basic principles which must guide the actions of those who carry out or use marketing and social research in Kenya. Individuals and organizations who subscribe must follow up not just the letter, but also the spirit of these rules. The Code of practice is designed to support all those engaged in marketing and social research in maintaining professional standards throughout the industry. Assurance that research is conducted in an ethical manner is needed to create confidence in and to encourage co-operation among the business community and the general public. No variation in the application of the rules is permissible without explicit authorization by MSRA. Apparent infringements should be reported to MSRA. MSRA will then investigate the case and take any appropriate action. Back to Top


  • Marketing and Social Research: The systematic and objective planning, gathering, recording, analyzing and interpretation of data and information relevant to the identification and solution of any problem in the field of marketing, social and communication decision making.
  • Respondent/Informant: Refers to any individual or organization from whom information is sought by the Researcher for the purposes of a project.
  • Clients/Sponsor: Defines any individual, organization, department or division which requests, commissions or subscribes to all or any part of a research project.
  • Researcher: Refers to any individual, research agency, organization, department or division, including any belonging to the same organization as the client, which is responsible for, or acts as, supplier on all or part of a research project.
  • Interview: An interview is any form of contact intended to provide information for the purpose of a marketing or social project.
  • Record: Can be defined as any brief, proposal, questionnaire, respondent identification, check list, record sheet, audio or audio-visual recording or film, tabulation or computer print out, formula, diagram, report, etc. in respect of any marketing project. It covers records produced by the client as well as by the researcher.
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General Rules

  1. Marketing research must always be carried out objectively and in accordance with established scientific principles.
  2. Marketing research must always conform to the legislation of the country in which the project is undertaken.
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The Rights of Respondents

  1. Respondents’ cooperation in a marketing research project is entirely voluntary at all stages. They must not be misled when being asked for their cooperation.
  2. Respondents anonymity is an important principle of research and it is believed to offer the public reassurance which increases their willingness to participate in surveys. It must be strictly preserved. There are however circumstances where it may be appropriate for data to be reported on a respondent-identified basis. In these circumstances the following guidelines should be applied:
    • The purpose of the survey must be clearly stated to respondents
    • S/he must be told the identify of the client to whom identifiable data will be released
    • S/he must be given the opportunity to decline permission for data to be used in this way.
  3. If the Respondent on request from the Researcher has given permission for data to be passed on in a form which allows the Respondent to be personally identified.
    • The Respondent must have been told to whom the information would be supplied.
    • The Researcher must ensure that the recipient of the information has agreed to conform to the requirements of this Code.
  4. The Researcher must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that Respondents are in no way directly harmed or adversely affected as a result of their participation in a project.
  5. The Researcher must take special care when interviewing children and young people:
    • Before children under in the age of 14 are interviewed, or asked to complete a questionnaire, the permission of a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for them like a teacher should be obtained.
    • If the nature of the research requires (sensitive questions, product testing), the same procedure should be followed with young people aged 14-17 years.
  6. Respondents must be told if observation techniques or recording equipment are being used.
  7. The requirement in 8 above does not apply where the actions or statements of individuals are observed or recorded in public places and are normally liable to be observed and/or overheard by other people present. In the latter case, at least one of the following conditions shall be observed:
    • All reasonable precautions are taken to ensure that the individual’s anonymity is preserved, or
    • The individual is told immediately after the event that his/her actions and/or statements have been recorded or filmed, and is given the opportunity to see or hear the relevant section of the record, and if he/she wishes, to have it destroyed or deleted.
  8. Mystery shopping is a research technique aiming at measuring quality of customer service. Investigators are visiting or calling on shops or points of sales, acting as normal customers. Operational guidelines for conducting Mystery shopping are as follows:
    • The fieldwork must be carried out in ways which avoid unreasonably wasting the time and money of the organization and individuals being researched. Examples of acceptable situations are short interviews (2-3 minutes), simple observational checks, situations in which a purchase is made.
    • The findings must be analysed in such a way that individual outlets or members of staff cannot be identified. The only exceptions to these rules are in cases where:
    • The organization whose branches are the object of such a survey has explicitly agreed in advance to accept the risk of possible inconvenience.
    • The people working in the branches being surveyed have been warned in advance that they are likely to be the object of this kind of research.
    • Respondents must be enabled to check without difficulty the identity and bona fides of the Researcher. This includes identification of the interviewer/researcher, of the organization and the general purpose of the research.
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The Professional Responsibilities of Researchers

  1. Researchers must not make false claims about their skills and experience or about those of their organization.
  2. Researchers must not unjustifiably criticize or disparage other Researchers.
  3. Researchers must always strive to design research that is cost-efficient and of adequate quality, and then to carry out to the specifications agreed by the Client.
  4. Researchers must ensure the security of all research records and their possession.
  5. When acting in their capacity as Researchers the latter must not undertake any non-research activities. Any non-research activity must always, in the way they are organized and carried out, be clearly differentiated from marketing research activities.
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The Mutual Rights and Responsibilities of Reaserchers and Clients

  1. Those rights and responsibilities will normally be governed by a written Contract between the Researcher and the Client. The parties may amend the provisions of rules 19 to 21 and 23 below if they have agreed to this in writing beforehand. The other requirements of this Code may not be altered in this way.
  2. Marketing research must always be conducted according to the principles of fair competition as generally understood and accepted.
  3. The Researchers must inform the Client if the work to be carried out for that Client is to be combined or syndicated in the same project with work for other Clients but must not disclose the identity of such Clients. However, the Client may require any information on length of interview or any aspect that may impact the quality of service.
  4. The Researcher must inform the Client in advance when any part of the work for that Client is to be sub-contracted outside the Researcher’s own organization (including the use of any consultant). On request, the Client must be told the identity of such a subcontractor.
  5. The Client does not have the right, without prior agreement between the parties involved to exclusive use of the Researcher’s services or those of his organization whether in whole or in part. In carrying out work for different Clients, however, the Researcher must endeavour to avoid possible clashes of interest between the services provided to those Clients.
  6. All records are the property of the agency. Provided secondary records would enable results to be reconstructed, agencies may destroy primary records without Client permission one year, but no sooner, after presentation of results.
  7. All records may be destroyed without Client permission two years, but no sooner, after presentation of results.
  8. With the exception of syndicated research, the Client may obtain original records, or duplicates, upon completion of a survey provided that:
    • He/she bears the cost of such duplicates.
    • Information anonymity is preserved.
  9. When a survey is commissioned only by a client, the Researcher shall not disclose any result without prior permission. This restriction does not extend to results derived from published sources, nor to the research techniques used nor to methodological analyses which do not, in themselves constitute results.
  10.  Clients may not give or sell the results of a syndicated survey to other parties without prior written permission from the Researcher.
  11. The Researcher must not disclose the identity of the Client, or any confidential information about the Client’s business to any third party without the Client’s permission.
  12. The Client may, on request, be present at a limited number of interviews or group discussion in order to monitor fieldwork standards. To fulfill this objective in a multi-client survey, the Researcher may require any such observer to be independent of any Client.
  13. The Researcher must provide the Client with all appropriate technical details of any research project carried out for that Client.
  14. When reporting on the results of a marketing research project the Researcher must make a clear difference between the findings as such, the interpretation of these, and any recommendations based on them.
  15. Where any of the findings of a research project are published by the Client, the latter has a responsibility to ensure that these are not misleading. The Researcher must be consulted and agree in advance the form and content of publication, and must take action to correct any misleading statement about the research and its findings.
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Responsibilities to the General Public and the Business Community

  1. Public confidence in research shall not be intentionally abused.
  2. No activity shall be misrepresented as research. Specifically the following activities shall not be associated directly or by implication, with the collection of research data:
    • inquiries whose objectives are to obtain personal information about private individuals for legal, political, or other purposes.
    • industrial, commercial, or any other source of espionage.
    • sales or promotional approaches.
    • the collection of debts.
    • promotion of religious/social issues.
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Quality Standards For Data Collection

  1. All field interviewers must receive briefing instructions on every project. This can be in the form of face-to-face briefing or written instructions.
  2. Data collection, or fieldwork, provides the raw material for analysis and thus the quality of data is extremely important. A professional field force of trained interviewers should therefore be maintained. Interviewer training should comprise the following:S/he must be given the opportunity to decline permission for data to be used in this way.
    • What market research is.
    • Understanding of the code of practice with particular regard to.
    • Assurance of confidentiality and respondent anonymity.
    • The right of respondents to withdraw from the interview* permission for follow-up interviews.
    • Observation/recording of the interview* how to interview children.
    • How to approach respondents and the importance of identification procedures to verify the bona-fides of the interviewer.
    • How to cope with refusals*
    • How to conduct an interview with particular regard to:
      • Closed questions.
      • Open ended questions and appropriate probes.
      • Scales
      • Administration and completion of questionnaires.
      • Field sampling procedures and quota control.
      • Socio-demographics classifications.
      • Terminology/jargon
    • How to finish an interview and leave a thank-you note.
  3. To ensure interviewers conduct their interviews correctly and in an appropriate manner, fieldwork should undergo the following checks:
    • Accompaniment of each interviewer by a supervisor for an agreed number of interviews.
    • Back checking of an agreed percentage of interviewers.
    • Regular checking of sample and quota controls.

The ICC/ ESOMAR Code of Ethics (endorsed and adopted by MSRA): 

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