The Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA), affiliated to the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), started its activities in 2001 with the aim of meeting the needs of policy-making organizations and institutions and in line with the country’s scientific and research development, given the need for attention to public opinion and benefiting from the participation and contribution of the citizens’ views in the improvement and development of the country’s affairs in different fields.
ISPA’s fundamental and central principles in planning and implementing research and polling activities include: emphasis on employing precise and accurate scientific and technical criteria; observing and maintaining an impartial stance on the issues being examined; tapping into the Iranian officials and people’s confidence and trust in the ACECR; and relying on young and talented academics and their creativities in research activities.
In terms of organizational structure, ISPA acts under the president of the ACECR, and is run by a board of managers. It has four deputies, namely, Research (including five research teams specializing in market research, political studies and voting behavior, urban studies, social and cultural studies, and baseline studies); Executive (including sampling, polling, education and processing teams), Communications; and Administrative-Financial deputies.
Some 45 top researchers and scholars of the country specializing in social research work with ISPA. There are also nearly 5000 students cooperating with the agency as pollsters.
One of ISPA’s main objectives since its foundation has been to develop the technical knowhow and technology for conducting survey and research in underdeveloped and remote provinces and equipping regional and local policy-making systems with participative management methods, and that has led to the expansion of the agency’s branches. It now has branches in 28 provinces of the country.
Using such a potential has enabled the agency to implement its research plans at a low cost, in a short time and with high precision and accuracy. ISPA’s branches work within the framework of the ACECR’s provincial structures under the heads of ACECR’s branches and have special administrative and scientific structures. It is worth noting that given the ACECR’s cultural and political objectives in this field, currently 5000 students have been recruited as honorary staff in ISPA’s branches.
During its years of activities, ISPA has conducted more than 2000 polls in various cultural, economic, social and political areas at the local, regional and national levels, the results of which have been used by a wide range of policy-making institutions and organizations in the government and private sectors.
One of ISPA’s special fields of activity is conducting opinion polls for elections. Surveys are conducted during election periods relying on domestic sources and with the sole purpose of developing technical knowhow and impartially predicting future developments in terms of assessing and understanding voting behavior. The outcomes of these polls are provided to related officials and public media. ISPA’s Voting Behavior Team has so far studied four major elections in the country, namely, the 8th and 9th presidential elections, second municipal councils votes and the 7thMajlis (parliamentary) elections, through regular field analyses and produced credible and reliable data for analyzing and assessing voting behavior in the country for researchers in this field. During the 9th presidential election alone, ISPA conducted 70 polls.
ISPA’s research activities, from one perspective, can be divided into two main categories:
1. Polls initiated by ISPA itself to accurately and promptly reflect the public opinion about important issues of the society and the world. The results of these polls are made available to decision-making bodies, related organizations and the media. Some of such polls include those on the Iraqi crisis, Iran’s peaceful nuclear activity, municipal council and presidential elections, quality of cars manufactured in the country, people’s economic conditions, earthquake preparedness, etc.
2. Polls ordered by governmental and private organizations and institutions active in industrial, economic, social and cultural fields with various objectives such as need assessment, satisfaction assessment and performance evaluation. ISPA has so far conducted polls ordered by, among others, the ministries of health, commerce and interior, the Municipality of Tehran, Petroleum Industry Health Organization, Iranian Central Oil Fields Company, Bank of Industry and Mine, Police, Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, Presidential Office, Raja Rail Transportation Company, Physical Education Organization, Judiciary, Blood Transfusion Organization, Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, SAPCO, and Saipa.
In terms of themes, ISPA’s polls fall into the following categories:
1. Political Section
A. Elections and Voting Behavior
B. Officials’ Performance
C. Political Events
2. Cultural, Social, and Sports Sections
A. Performance of Organizations and Institutions
B. Market Research and Need Assessment
C. Job Satisfaction
ISPA considers speed, accuracy, and being functional and economical as the main advantages of its research activities and strives to take steps, however small they may be, toward elevation of the Islamic Iran.