And condolences if you signed up for AQR¹s Residential Foundation Course in the belief that you¹d be hanging round the bar from lunchtime on with nothing better to do than sip martinis. Ask for your money back ASAP.

If, however, you¹re the type who likes to meet really interesting people from all corners of the world plus learn how your mind and those of consumers work ­ then read on. Because if delving into the subconscious and having a fun time in the process appeals, too, then this was the course for you.

I didn¹t really know what to expect when my boss signed me up for this course. To be honest, I probably related more to the escapism element than anyone else. I guess I expected it to be a whole load of artsy hippy types swanning around throwing tantrums because they were misunderstood. In addition, coming from the client side, I suppose I had a lot more preconceptions built up about "qualitative research" than most. My biggest nightmare was that everyone on the course would be "qualitative gurus" whose sole aim in attending was to prove to me that I hadn¹t a clue and should really leave it to the experts. Instead, I was comforted by the fact that fellow attendees were in a similar situation to myself, having little or no qualitative experience.

I found all the presentations very interesting, but my favourite was "Projective Techniques", given by Nicky Marchant. Since I have a science background and possibly, as a result, a more logical and methodological approach to discussion guides, this truly was something new.

Since attending the course I've tried out some of the techniques and have gotten some really interesting and insightful results. I found working in syndicates the most rewarding and enjoyable part of the course. Not only were we provided with tutors possessing years of valuable experience between them, but a wealth of knowledge was also to be found within the groups themselves.

Another aspect that I never thought about before this course was how difficult it is for the respondent. It really opened my eyes to how difficult it is for them to give answers and reasons for their behaviour.

The amount of knowledge one gains over the three days is amazing. I believe firmly that I¹m now a better qualitative researcher. I would definitely recommend this course to any new researcher ­ and I think some of the more experienced researchers out there could learn a thing or two, too.