British study must be published in full!


Last week we wrote about a British study that portrays the attitudes of Russian speaking people in Estonia in a way similar to those dealt with in the Kremlin’s propaganda media. Based on the findings of the study a discussion in the media concluded the failure of Estonia’s integration policy.

However, the fact that the whole discussion was based just on the conclusions of the study, due to the data of the study not being public was left out.

Propastop considers it unacceptable that only conclusions have been leaked to the public yet the study itself has not been made available to the public. This situation provides an opportunity for the manipulating of information and the influencing the discussion as well as questioning the hidden purpose behind the public disclosure of the current limited material. This also does not mean that any future steps taken based on the study will be adequate due to possible lack of full information.

If we have a partly published study, we see at least four problems that may be called into question:

  • The study may have been inadequately conducted
  • The study data may be misinterpreted
  • The research data may provide interpretations that the authors of the study did not see
  • Not all findings of the study have been published or conclusions are presented in such a way as to achieve hidden goals of the presenter to the media.

Propastop does not claim that any of these questions of shortcomings are in the study. Rather it is quite likely that the study will be of a high quality. However until there is an option of an independent control of facts the study remains questionable.

It is true that the publication of research results is the decision of the study contractor. This would also apply to this study if only the contracting authority knew the findings. Now that the conclusions are the basis of media debate, there is no justification of hiding the data, it touches on a very important subject in Estonian society.

Truthfully, we cannot imagine that the study is hidden somewhere in London behind dozens of locks, totally inaccessible and that all the involved parties are sworn to secrecy. According to Krister Paris, the editors of Eesti Päevaleht have the entire 140-page text of the study, but this is not available to the general public.

Public access control of a study is good practice for research companies. For example ESOMAR, the international professional association for information retrieval authorities, writes in Article 8 of its rules that, in the event that researchers publish research findings, sufficient basic information is to be guaranteed to the public to ensure the quality of the data and the accuracy of the findings.

The following research organizations have been associated with the study and these facts have been published in the press.

The Study was conducted by:

International internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov,  headquartered in the UK

IWPR, Institute of War and Peace Reporting, UK

Baltic Centre of Media Excellence, Latvia

Turu-Uuringute AS, Estonia. The interviewees of this company allegedly interviewed 1466 permanent residents of Estonia who were at least 16 years of age. Of those, 706 were Russians living here. The survey took place from mid-May 2017 to mid-July 2017.

The funding sponsor: CSSF, Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, UK

The study was ordered by: The British government


Photo: Mike Lawrence /Flickr /CC. Photomontage: Propastop.