The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Participation is key

AQR may have hit its quarter century in 2006, but the enthusiasm and energy of its members show no signs of waning. Fiona Jack outlines the new initiatives planned for 2007

Welcome to the 2007 edition of the Directory. This year we have an even bigger version with more entries than ever before, which must be an optimistic sign for our industry, as qual continues to grow in the face of a changing quantitative environment.

Looking back at our 25th anniversary year, we have hosted a range of events, both social and educational, old favourites as well as some new ones.

Events included a successful Trends Day, with the theme ‘Quality Redefined’, and a host of excellent speakers.

Our summer 25th anniversary party attracted a wide range of members, including some founder members of the organisation. As we were celebrating 25 years, we chose the theme ‘1981’ for the evening, with optional fancy dress from the period. Some of our members dug deep into their wardrobes for leg warmers and rara skirts, and the room was filled with memorabilia from that particular year — news articles, TV shows and movies, fashion and so on.

We love a good party (as many of you noted in our membership survey earlier in the year) and of course kept up the tradition of ‘Not the Christmas Party’ in January, to ward off post Christmas blues.

Champion of Independents

We continued to cater for the many Independents among our members, with a guest speaker lunch (an annual event), and for the first time an evening meeting for Independents. Independent researchers are an important part of our membership, and we aim to ensure their needs are fully met.

In the same way, we continued with our New Researchers Forum, aimed at those with less than four years experience. This offered a chance to network with other newcomers to qualitative research over a few drinks, and gain some tips on developing a career in this industry from a senior client — Charlie Gower from Coca-Cola.

Our education programme comprised the usual mix of trainee courses (two Foundation courses and two moderating skills courses) alongside an Advanced course for more senior researchers and a Field course aimed at those working in this area.

Bursary opportunities

We introduced a Bursary in 2005 for one place on each of our Foundation Courses. The scheme was devised to encourage aspiring qualitative researchers in their efforts to get on the first rung of the career ladder who are not currently employed in the market research industry. We are pleased to be able to offer these again in 2007. As a non-profit making organisation, we are keen to be able to offer these opportunities to our members, as well as keeping our courses and events affordable.

This year’s Prosper Riley-Smith Research Effectiveness award was presented on 5 November at the MRS Awards Dinner. This year the standard was so high that we offered the award jointly to two papers — by Caroline Hayter and Chloe Salmon of Acacia Avenue with Rene de Coning from BP, and Liz Owen from Opinion Leader. This coveted award goes from strength to strength as the only one of its kind for qualitative research.

Looking to the future, we have some exciting initiatives planned this year. An Excellence Project was conducted this year, the results of which will be presented at the MRS Conference.

International flavour

Our flagship Trends conference will take place in the autumn, but this year will have an international flavour. We continue to develop our links with qualitative research organisations in other countries — notably the QRCA in the US, and more recently Ptbrio in Poland. We would like to reflect these broader connections in our Trends event this year.

Our membership survey provided valuable feedback, and thank you to all those of you who responded to it. We want to remain responsive to our members’ needs and this is a useful means of hearing about how you think we are doing. A key (if unsurprising) finding of the survey was that satisfaction with AQR is in direct proportion to participation in events or courses. So if you haven’t so far attended any of our events, do try and come along to something. We try to offer a wide range to suit all levels of experience, or simply the chance to meet up with peers in a relaxed social setting.

Finally, it remains for me to thank all those on the Committee, and those who run or speak on courses and events for us, who give of their time unstintingly to make AQR what it is. Particular thanks go to our Secretariat team, Rose Molloy and Angela Webb, who help us to get the show on the road, so to speak. Also to Louella Miles, editor of In Brief/In Depth and this Directory, and to Kevin Redfern of Red Pear for his PR activities for us, and to <a href="https://www.skillzone.net">Skill Zone</a> for its work on the website.

I hope to see you at one of our events in 2007.

 

Fiona Jack
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2007