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FAQs about Market & Social Research


Q. I'm on the Do Not Call Register. Why are you calling me? And how did you get this number?

A. The 'Do Not Call Register' is for telemarketers who are trying to sell you something or get you to donate to charity. It does not apply to people who are only collecting opinions, not trying to sell you anything. We choose numbers at random from the directory and participants remain anonymous. If you like, we can make sure if your number comes up again we won't call. But it means your views won't count.

Q. But it's all telemarketing, isn't it?

A. Researchers are not telemarketers. Government agencies like Centrelink and product manufacturers are very responsive to what they learn from research. We have child-proof closures on medicines because research helped define the most workable designs. The location of stores and shopping centres is based on research. Public opinion research determines the best mass transit systems, what social service programs are needed, what special services school children and senior citizens need, and the list goes on.

Q. Why should I answer your questions?

A. Your views count. For example, if residents living in areas of high bushfire risk in Victoria hadn't taken part in a study about awareness of issues about bushfire, the state government wouldn't have understood how under-prepared they were to deal with bushfire and would not have put practical measures in place to help those people in future.

If farmers in Victoria hadn't taken part in a study on plant pests and diseases in the state, the state government and growing bodies would not have known how to communicate with, and educate, them so that farmers know how to identify, contain and eradicate such threats - protecting crops, the livelihood of farmers and the quality of life of all Australians.

Q. How do I know you won't try to sell me anything?

A. It is illegal to pretend to be doing market research if the real purpose of the call is telemarketing. Anyone caught doing this can be penalised under the Trade Practices Act.

Q. What gives you the right to call me when I haven't given you permission?

A. People have the right to privacy. We respect that. But people also have a right to have their opinions heard. From studies on public health, to voting intentions, to television ratings, to surveys of customer satisfaction for developing better products and services, market and social research provides valuable information about our society.

Q. I have a silent number. How did you get it?

A. For some studies researchers have to hear from groups that may be vulnerable. If people hadn't taken part in a crime incidence study where phone numbers were generated by an automatic number generator so that silent numbers were included as well, we would not know the actual incidence of crime, only the reported incidence. This would have meant that governments could not plan the right number of services to provide to the victims of crime and to crime enforcement and prevention agencies to reduce the effects of crimes in the first place.

Q. How can I be sure the information I provide will be kept confidential?

A. All professional researchers operate under a Code of Professional Behaviour which guarantees respondents the right to confidentiality, unless they specifically request a piece of information about them to be made known.

Most research companies operate under the Market and Social Research Privacy Principles that guarantee even greater levels of confidentiality and privacy than the Privacy Act.