British Polling Council
|Professor John Curtice|
The British Polling Council (BPC) is an association of market research companies whose opinion polls are regularly published or broadcast in media in the United Kingdom. The objective of the BPC is to ensure standards of disclosure, designed to provide readers of published quantitative survey results with an adequate basis for judging the reliability and validity of the presented statistical findings.
In practice this means that within a few days of a member organisation's poll being published in a newspaper, or reported in the broadcast media, the members must provide a website address where detailed statistical tables may be viewed. The full methodology used must also be available to the public. The aim is to increase the level of confidence that the general public can place on published polls.
The BPC is modelled on the National Council on Public Polls in the United States. The BPC was established in 2004, twelve years after the perceived failure of opinion polls to come close to predicting the actual result of the United Kingdom general election, 1992. This had led to an inquiry by the Market Research Society, and most opinion polling companies changed their methodology in the belief that a 'Shy Tory Factor' affected the polling. However, the BPC does not aim to dictate which methodologies its members use, and indeed they employ a wide range of fieldwork methods (telephone, door-to-door, and internet) and statistical tools, e.g. most companies now weight by 'past vote', but this technique is rejected by some.
Through full disclosure the BPC aims to encourage the highest professional standards, and to advance the understanding, among politicians, the media and general public, of how opinion polls are conducted, and how to interpret poll results. The BPC also provides advice on best practice in the conduct and reporting of polls.
The BPC is concerned only with polls and surveys that set out to measure the opinions of representative samples, for example the views of an explicitly stated population, for example 'all adults', or 'all voters' in a given area. They do not concern themselves with qualitative research.
Membership is limited to organisations who can show to the satisfaction of the BPC that the sampling methods and weighting procedures used are designed to accurately represent the views of all people within designated target groups (such as all adults, or voters etc.).
Journalists and academics with expertise in polling are appointed as officers of the BPC.
The following organisations are members of the BPC:
- Dods Polling
- GfK NOP Social Research
- ICM Research
- Ipsos MORI
- ORB International
- RMG Clarity
- Survation Ltd
- Quantitative research
- Social research
- Statistical survey
- Voodoo poll
- Elections in the United Kingdom
- Politics of the United Kingdom