The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Spotlight on qual

This year’s annual Directory, the tenth, is bigger and better than ever before - a ‘must read’ for industry veterans and newcomers alike. Fiona Jack reviews the past year and looks at what AQR hopes to achieve in 2004.

It has been another difficult year for business as a whole, but qualitative research seems to be holding up well. This is borne out by the growing number of entries in our Directory - particularly from international agencies, as the remit of AQR expands beyond the UK.

In the third quarter of 2003, BMRA figures show modest but steady growth, based on data from a range of larger and smaller agencies. International research seems to be growing at a slower rate than domestic research, according to these latest figures.

The Directory is a major resource for clients looking to locate an agency, recruiter or viewing facility easily, and is also available on our website at www.aqr.org.uk. It is, in addition, a source of information for people new to the industry, and gives an update on some major changes and developments that the AQR has made in the last 12 months.

Goals and objectives

First and foremost, the AQR represents the interests of members, and provides a forum through which they can interact.

We also seek to innovate and encourage new thinking in qualitative research, and thereby take the industry forward by being a catalyst for change. We do this by providing a forum in which qualitative research developments can be raised and debated, standards maintained and enhanced and new skills are learnt and shared, increasingly on an international basis.

An important part of our remit is to create and raise professional standards through a comprehensive training programme, which offers courses for trainees and experienced researchers alike, and also the development of best practice guidelines.

Highlights of 2003

A number of new initiatives have taken place this year, which we hope will provide our members with even more than in the past.

We now have a Jobs section to the website, which provides a source of new career opportunities for members, and for agencies, a good value way of finding new recruits.

Our Library resource is also now up and running on the website, and includes a useful Glossary of terms, both short and in-depth articles, and a reference section with industry facts and figures. There are plans to extend this over the course of the next year.

We have also launched our membership benefits package. This includes a dedicated hotel booking service for those doing fieldwork away from home. Not only does the company offer specially negotiated rates, but it also block books and can often obtain a room when to all intents and purposes the hotel is fully booked. This is particularly useful when doing fieldwork at short notice. In addition, we can also offer discounted venue and insurance packages to our members.

We ran a highly successful international conference in Lisbon this year, in conjunction with the QRCA, and this reflects our growing commitment to the international arena. We plan to run an international conference every other year, with a UK-based event in the intervening years.

We have continued with our training programme, offering a range of courses for both juniors and more senior researchers. Foundation and Moderating skills courses continue to be popular for junior researchers, with advanced courses and advertising research courses for our more senior members.

Future developments

We continue to strive for excellence in all aspects of our professional development, and AQR is committed to pushing the boundaries of what we do ever further. A key initiative for the coming year is to encourage more dialogue with other professional bodies such as AURA, MRS and so on.

We are also planning an exciting ‘Trends’ day for the late Autumn 2004, where our focus will be to look outside the confines of the qualitative research industry, and examine major cultural and societal trends that affect our day-to-day work. We are in contact with some ‘big names’ to lead us in this important perspective, so look out watch this space.

Keep in touch

AQR is a non-profit making organisation run by an elected Committee who give their time freely. Though still run by members for members, it enjoys the support of a team of professionals: Rose Molloy and Angela Webb who run the Secretariat, Louella Miles who edits In Brief, in Depth and the Directory, Skill Zone Ltd who manage the AQR Website and our PR agency, Camargue.

We are always keen to receive feedback from our members about what they would like from AQR, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any ideas by ringing 00 44 1480 407227, or visiting our website on www.aqr.org.

 

Fiona Jack
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2004