Ethical Standards of Research

In this document, we make three broad commitments to ensure our research is ethical. We commit to supporting our community, to being honest and to respecting the rights of the community and research participants.

These commitments were chosen with reference to the ethical standards of leading research bodies (e.g., Pew Research Centre), ethical guidance bodies (e.g., Ethical Standards Commissioner) and the Insights Team’s own reflections.

In this statement, we also aim to be transparent about our use of data and the business motivations for our research. We have tried to do this in the form of a graphic, which you can find at the end of the document.

Our commitments


We commit to supporting the L&OD community through our research. For us, this primarily means providing timely statistics to community members, free of charge. In addition, we aid in the development of services intended for use by the community. Some of these services are also free of charge.

We commit to getting our findings to those who need it most. For example, one step we take to facilitate this is providing research reports for free. We also contribute to webinars and other community events.


We commit to honesty and rigor. We aim to use robust, statistically sound analytical techniques, while articulating easily digestible insights for the benefit of our community. Crucially, what you see in a report is what we found in the data. That being said, the sections of reports describing research methodology will usually be simplified to conform to the interests of our community. And we may avoid overly complex analysis for ease of communication throughout a report.These concerns are not as prominent in our internal research.

Given that this research unit exists as part of a company that provides services relevant to our research, it is important for us be transparent about conflict of interest.

Our research is not a promotional tool for Emerald Works/Mind Tools for Business. If we find something that demonstrates a flaw in one of our products, we will not hide this information. It would be taken as an opportunity to improve the product.

Nevertheless, to avoid our research evolving into active marketing, we will not make any direct endorsements of, or references to, paid Emerald Works/Mind Tools for Business products or services in our research reports. The only exception being that we may refer to an Emerald Works/Mind Tools for Business service or product that has both a free and paid version.

Finally, regarding integrity, we commit to admitting our mistakes, and correcting them where possible.


We commit to protecting the rights of our research participants (who are often users of Emerald Works’/Mind Tools for Business products). Specifically, the right to privacy, and the right to autonomy (i.e., to withdraw their data from our databases).

We collect data for only two reasons: to improve our services and products, or to contribute to the wider community. As an example of the former, we may use customer churn data and exit surveys to determine how we can provide future users with a better experience. As an example of our community work, we often produce research reports on L&OD using data from our Learning Performance Benchmark, which itself is a useful tool for our community.

If you volunteer to participate in research projects being undertaken by us or our group companies, this will involve us processing your personal data. Typically, this will be personal data such as your name, email address and your job role. Any personal data you share for the purpose of your participation will only be accessible to members of the team who are involved in research activities.

The data we collect, for example, from the Learning Performance Benchmark, is stored securely, and only aggregated, anonymized data is shared internally with other parties within Emerald Works.

Similarly, we never share data collected by other means (e.g., web analytics) outside the company. We have no reason to do this, and we do not aim to adopt business practices for which this would be beneficial.

All data collection, processing and storage is GDPR compliant and is done so in accordance with our privacy policy.