The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Qualitative accreditation is happening

There has been at least one positive result from the launch of Unilever's global qualitative accreditation scheme: an AQR-led investigation into whether an industry wide accreditation and qualifications programme is desirable, and indeed feasible. And if so, what form should it take?

Research

This February the inaugural meeting of the industry-wide Qualitative Accreditation Steering Group, organised by AQR's Accreditation sub-committee (Michael Herbert, Blue Martin and Peter Totman) rallied industry association leaders, prominent qual researchers and clients.

The associations are represented on the Steering Group by Debrah Harding, MRS COO; Richard Drury, AURA chair, Ken Parker, AQR chair, Finn Raben, ESOMAR DG and representatives from the APG, the SRA and the ICG.

On the client side, we welcome Manish Makhijani, Unilever global consumer insights director, whose experience of his company's qualitative accreditation scheme will be invaluable. Rebecca Wynberg, TNS global head of qual, who played a seminal part in the development of the Unilever scheme, has signed on, too.

Research agencies represented include Truth, Firefish and Acacia Avenue. Leading thinkers and educationalists in this area such as Wendy Gordon, Roy Langmaid and Joanna Chrzanowska are also involved.

There are many challenges ahead, including the nature of the model required, whether it needs to be global, how a curriculum and syllabus can be developed and by who, where the funding will come from and who the Qualitative Accreditation Steering Group will belong to? These are major issues, but we believe we have the people involved, plus the commitment and desire to produce a successful and professional outcome.

Fieldwork

Currently, anybody can set up as a qualitative recruiter with no training, formal or otherwise. Surely though, as technological developments result in more sophisticated recruitment methods, and as respondents become more market research savvy, it is time for some form of guidelines and basic standards in this area? Some that qualitative recruiters must adhere to in order to work for any companies within AQR or MRS?

Training in recruitment and what is good practice, including new electronic methods, is absolutely key, too. In fact, if we don't look at the entire supply chain, the outcome will be messy. This is why AQR is hoping to promote an industry-based qualitative recruitment accreditation scheme in collaboration with the MRS. We are looking to change the way recruiters are viewed and value them as the beneficial tools that our industry needs. So if you have any thoughts on the qualitative recruitment process, please contact AQR.

 

Michael Herbert
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2014