The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Survey: What do you really think?

We counted the surveys going out, we counted them coming back some 120 replies out of a total of 1,152 and the results made interesting reading.

The majority of those who replied have been in the industry for four years-plus (some 68%), who probably fall into the category of those wanting to put something back into the industry, while there were fewer responses from younger members.

The general opinion is that members appreciate the function and services of the Association, with 76% of respondents counting themselves 'satisfied'. Their views have changed, they say, because of its growing professionalism; the provision of more ­ and better ­ training and education; an In Brief that is a better read; the expansion of membership and the efficient and 'slick' administration. Stand up Rose Molloy and Angela Webb and take your bows! But underneath such pleasantries the survey throws up a number of areas for improvement. Some members still perceive AQR as ineffectual, with a low or invisible profile.

"I'm pleased that the membership thinks that what we do, we do well, but I recognise that they want us to develop ­ and that is the challenge," says AQR chair Rachel Ormrod. "There also those who voiced the need for a higher profile, raising questions of resourcing."

The findings will be integral to a strategy review of AQR's role now and in the future that will address such topics. The danger, however, is in reading too much into such a small number of responses (and just compare it with the feedback to the networker survey).

For instance, some call for more full time staff to increase AQR's professionalism. Yet how many would be prepared for the steep rises in membership necessary to pay for them? And alternatively, would they volunteer for Committee duty?

Maybe it is a matter of perception. Many argue that AQR is not working hard enough to raise industry standards, establish best practices and promote qualitative research.

Yet the AQR is seeking to promote qualitative research very actively ­ it's just not always informing members that this is happening.

It is also attempting to raise industry standards and establish best practices ­ witness the soon to be published Qualitative Recruitment Guidelines ­ but it doesn't always make the most exciting reading. And the proof of the pudding will be in their adoption, anyway.

It's fair to say: We hear you, loud and clear. But we may be asking a few more of you, both past and present members, for a lot more input.

 

Louella Miles
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2001