The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Accreditation morphs into professionalisation

What is the vision for qualitative research? Vision Day made it clear that quallies want to be fully professionalised.

Last year's Vision Day consultation with qualitative researchers, wonderfully led by Wendy Gordon and Roy Langmaid with fantastic online back-up by Andy Bloor and the team at Firefish, made it clear that quallies want to be fully professionalised with a rigorous qualification and a CPD programme for training and development throughout their career.

Global professional qualification

Qualitative educationalists Joanna Chrzanowska (Qualitative Mind) and Mia Lorenz (The Research Academy) have begun developing a curriculum and training programme for knowledge and skills as the basis for a gold standard international professional qualification. MRS chief executive Debrah Harding has pledged active support with ongoing continuous development along with its global reach. Finn Raben, director general of ESOMAR, has also been an active supporter and the society is willing to help develop and promote this ‘professionalisation’ worldwide.

Unilever accreditation

Unilever has a lot to answer for but is definitely to be thanked for the kick up the backside it gave the qualitative industry by announcing its own global qualitative accreditation scheme at AQR’s AGM in 2012. The resulting kerfuffle led Blue Martin of Acacia Avenue, Peter Totman of Jigsaw Research and myself, of no fixed address, to establish a UK industry-wide steering group.

Its aim was to establish the level of appetite among QRs for an industry-wide professional qualification and what part accreditation might play in this mix. This steering group has representatives from leading industry associations including the MRS’s Debrah Harding, AQR chair Ken Parker, ESOMAR’s Finn Raben, the then chair of AURA Richard Drury, the ICG’s Karen Cooper and the SRA’s Clarissa White.

Leading lights such as Wendy Gordon, Roy Langmaid and Mark Thorpe of Truth gave it their backing, as did Rebecca Wynberg, then global chief of TNS qualitative and Manesh Makhijani of Unilever, the latter two largely responsible for designing and running the Unilever global qualitative accreditation scheme which somehow jump-started this whole process.

Industry-wide programme

The above is not simply a name dropping exercise but rather emphasises the enormous support for the proper professional development of QR. AQR has given tremendous backing to the steering group since its inception, although it is important to stress this is an industry wide initiative which aims to create a universally supported professional qualification.

The development of this global gold standard qualitative qualification and professional development programme is really happening and a huge thank you is owed to everyone who has helped so far.

 

Michael Herbert
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2015