Sociological surveys’ check

List of publicly available data on agencies in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Sociological Association (BSA) as a professional organization of sociologists is committed to the preparation of a list of publicly available data on agencies in Bulgaria that publish results of opinion polls (the list does not include market agencies that have not specified social and electoral surveys as part of their subject matter). The list is available on the BSA website HERE and will be updated in due course.

First published: 21 April 2021

Next published: 6 November 2021

Prof. Rumyana Stoilova, President of BAS, on Bulgarian National Radio on the topic “How sociological agencies can change attitudes to voting and how to recognize manipulations”

The Bulgarian Sociological Association works to increase the trust in the accuracy and reliability of the sociological results, as well as to increase the ability for informed choice of the citizens, which will be based on reliable and valid information and forecast. Civic education is the way to destroy the huge machine of censorship, stereotyping and dramatization of the situation, writes Walter Lipman in his book Public Opinion. And that means:

  • To build the habit of researching the sources of information used;
  • To recall how the same source predicted the outcome of the electoral behavior of the citizens;
  • To adhere to an objective, rational approach, to seek knowledge based on scientific facts – verifiable and reproducible;
  • To adopt the scientific method in searching for and using the results of polls for electoral attitudes.

The Code of Ethics of BAS, adopted in 2004, sets requirements for the communication of research data in the media. According to Art. 14. (4) When disseminating data from sociological surveys, information about the research methods and the sources of information shall always be provided in accordance with the requirements established in the sociological community. Upon completion of the study, the primary individual information is available for control of its methodological validity by the professional community.

In the Electoral Code,  Art. 205, it is written that the communication of the results of consultations on the electoral attitudes must contain “information about the assignor of the consultation or research, about the organization that conducted the consultation or research, and about the sources of its financing”.

It is good for citizens to monitor a few critical indicators that agencies tend to report incorrectly or omit at all. It is key to know who sponsored the study. A study costs a lot, it is an investment, so this factor is indicative. It is important for citizens to be aware which media publishes a survey results.

According to a study by a colleague from UNWE – Chief Assistant Dr. Marieta Hristova, there is unspecified funding in one or two of a total of more than 30 surveys for each of the elections in 2021. However, over half of the surveys indicate “own funding”. Citizens need to be extra careful when they see this information. Although not illegal, this indication may also be a refusal to disclose the actual source of funding.

When reading survey results, it is important whether it is representative and how respondents are selected. Dr. Hristova’s research notes that over half of the surveys conducted in 2021 lack information on representativeness, and only representative surveys make it possible to actually talk about all voters in Bulgaria who have the right to vote. Lack of information on whether the study is representative is a risky point. It is particularly risky when it is related to the requirement to report the margin of error. Indicating the probable error is important so that we know how to interpret results with minimal differences. In order for the information used to be reliable, it is good to monitor the results of several agencies, the deviations between them and the validity of their past electoral forecasts.

November 8, 2021


Author: Marieta Hristova


The article presents a comparative analysis of the established and applied professional standards in the publication of data from sociological research, with an emphasis on public opinion polls. This analysis is oriented in three directions: 1) description of the professional standards of some international associations, which lay the foundations for the application of ethical principles and the observance of such standards in the field of public opinion polls; 2) monitoring the discussion of the Bulgarian professional community and in particular the activity of the Bulgarian Sociological Association, related to the approval of patterns of professional standards when publishing data from pre-election surveys; 3) analysis of the Bulgarian research agencies’ publications results of pre-election surveys in the period 2014 – 2021 through a prepared monitoring tool, seeking an answer to the question: to what extent is it legal and in accordance with the professional standards the presented and published data from sociological (pre-election) research in the election campaigns periods. It is monitored whether and in what way the research agencies and centers present the passport of the research, the results of which are announced. The main monitoring indicators are derived from the Electoral Code, the codes of ethics and statements of ESOMAR, BSA, BAMOR and ABRO and include: contracting authority, contractor, financing, passport in a box, margin of error, period of conduct, sample –volume, method, representativeness, method of information registration, percentage of non-respondents, weighting, comparability, wording of the question, indicated base of the shown shares for the individual parties and place of publication.

The text is published in: Research Papers of UNWE, Vol. 1, 2022.