ARCHIVED Annual Report 2009–2010

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Sharing Knowledge

Knowledge within Government: The Community of Practice

The Public Opinion Research Directorate continued to coordinate the federal Community of Practice for public opinion research and participate in other interdepartmental working groups during 2009–2010. The Community of Practice, a network of specialists in public opinion research in the Government of Canada, continually provides a synergy of knowledge and best practices through communication and sharing of information across the government. In turn, increased capacity within this community contributes to high quality research that reflects the views of Canadians, sound management of resources and provides value for money.

The community includes POR practitioners from 57 departments. It meets regularly to share information and address issues of common concern, such as survey quality and response rates, procurement issues, emerging research techniques, new survey software, joint initiatives and partnerships, and new legislation and policy requirements.

Knowledge Management Unit

The Knowledge Management Unit fosters partnerships and the sharing of public opinion research across the federal government. The unit develops and manages the on-line Research Information Management System (RIMS) database, and produces the annual report, research guides and online resources. It also organizes information sharing meetings and sessions for the POR interdepartmental Community of Practice.

PORD's Knowledge Management Unit fosters education and capacity-building within the Community of Practice. It continued its speakers program during the 2009–2010 fiscal year. Online research has been a particular focus of this program, as the Government of Canada introduced, for the first time, a set of standards for online POR. Online research was also included for the first time in the new Standing Offer for Public Opinion Research, which came into effect on April 1, 2010. In 2009–2010, this medium was used in 31 qualitative and quantitative projects of the 148 POR projects conducted for the Government of Canada.

PORD's 2009–2010 speakers program covered the following subjects:

  • Questionnaires for Online Surveys
  • Attitude Scales and Online Surveys
  • Is a Large Sample Always Necessary?
  • Data Consistency and Usability in Online Surveys
  • How to Conduct Focus Group Projects
  • Software for Online Surveys
  • New Research in Online Surveys
  • Telephone Survey Response
  • Predictive Analytics

Surveys conducted with attendees at these sessions have revealed that, on average, nine out of ten consider these information sessions to be useful for their work.

A course entitled Managing Public Opinion Research: Policies and Procedures was also held four times. The offering of this course helped public opinion researchers in the Government of Canada keep up to date with the changes in policies over the previous three years and the new requirements for POR in the Government of Canada.

Knowledge Sharing with the Marketing Research Profession

In 2003, the Government of Canada, represented by PWGSC, began meeting regularly with the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA). The result has been a growing and productive working relationship that deals with issues of mutual interest. These issues include:

  • ensuring that all Government of Canada surveys contracted through POR standing offers are registered with the MRIA Survey Registration System;
  • consultations on research quality;
  • identification of research best practices;
  • participation in research studies on methodological issues of concern to the marketing research profession; and
  • holding courses on public opinion research that are directly relevant to federal government employees.

Canada's Marketing Research Industry

The marketing research industry in Canada accounted for $721 million in research activities in 2009, according to the MRIA, the national association for the marketing research industry and the marketing research discipline.

The Canada-wide Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (www) counts among its members over 1,800 practitioners and 400 corporate members, which include small to large research firms and private and public sector buyers of research services. MRIA's mission is to promote a positive environment in which the industry can operate effectively and for the benefit of the public.

Results for Canadians

Since December 2006, the Library and Archives of Canada Act has required federal institutions to deposit their final research reports with LAC within six months of the completion of fieldwork. Under the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, institutions must also submit—within six months of the completion of public opinion research fieldwork—copies of final reports and executive summaries in both official languages to Library and Archives Canada and Library of Parliament. These submissions are made through the Library and Archives Canada Web site.

The LAC Web site provides access to information about public opinion research contracted after August 1, 2006 for which the final reports have been submitted to LAC. In 2009–2010, 135 projects were completed and their reports submitted to LAC. These reports include studies completed before and during the 2009–2010 fiscal year.

Data files from some Government of Canada public opinion research studies are available to the public through the Canadian Opinion Research Archive (CORA) (www) of Queen's University. The aim of this archive is to maximize the usefulness of POR studies to Canadian society by making the material available to social scientists across the country. CORA contains hundreds of surveys dating back to the 1970s, as well as general information on public opinion research.

Canadians can also get information on all the public opinion research activities conducted by the Government of Canada by visiting the POR section of the Public Works and Government Services Canada's Web site. The Web site contains:

  • annual reports on POR;
  • Government of Canada standards for telephone and online survey research;
  • audit and evaluation reports;
  • POR best practices; and
  • links to the LAC Web site for POR studies.

Continuing Education

The Public Opinion Research Directorate understands the importance of training and education in its field of expertise and is committed to developing POR skills and knowledge levels among researchers in the Government of Canada. PORD is working with MRIA to enable Government of Canada researchers to eventually attain the Certified Marketing Research Professional (CMRP) designation through MRIA. During the reporting year, 10 of the 12 mandatory CMRP courses were available to federal public servants (additional courses will be available in the near future):

  • Introduction to Marketing Research;
  • Marketing Research Design: An Applied Course;
  • Advanced Qualitative Marketing Research Techniques;
  • Competitive Intelligence, Competitor Benchmarking and Mystery Shopping;
  • Questionnaire Design;
  • Ethical Issues and Privacy in Marketing Research;
  • Online Research: Best Practices and Innovations;
  • Marketing Research Statistics and Data Analysis;
  • Qualitative Marketing Research; and
  • Marketing Management for Researchers.

PORD's Knowledge Management Unit has helped develop a new program at Algonquin College in Ottawa entitled Marketing and Business Intelligence Research (www). In 2009–2010, PORD was a member of the Advisory Committee for this program, which started in the fall of 2009 and will be offered again in 2010–2011. The program prepares students for careers in the private and public sectors, and to write the examination for the MRIA's CMRP designation. Eighteen students completed the program in the first year.

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