The moral principles or rules of conduct for an activity or group. In the case of qualitative market research, such rules and principles are laid down in the codes of conduct produced by professional bodies of individual countries.
These codes generally provide protection for participants in research, acknowledging and acting as a counter to the researcher's and the client's power in the research situation. In the UK, these protections include ideas of informed consent, freedom from harm and anonymity. In practice, researchers are responsible for ensuring adherence to these codes and researchers can and do refuse contracts or client requests on ethical grounds.
In addition to those protecting respondents, there are guidelines for ethical business practice, concerning dealings between research suppliers and clients.