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Danger of forgetting our skills

Uber… We all love it, right? As qual researchers, I'm sure it's the saviour of many a late night in the office or moderating groups.

The furore that ensued when TFL stated it was not going to renew its licence hit home an important point — we quickly become overly reliant on technology when it is introduced to us. It’s like people thought London was going to come to a grinding halt. As someone who’s lived in London for nearly two decades, I can confirm that it wasn’t all horse and carts and restaurants closing at 5pm before Uber arrived.

As researchers we constantly look to embrace technology (rightly so for the most part) to help our understanding of consumer behaviour. We need, however, to be mindful of becoming our reliance on it. Automated research, for example, is likely to continue to grow traction in the coming years and could well find its way more into qualitative spheres.

Now, I’m not against increasing efficiency and allowing researchers to do our job, but we need to remember what clients really buy us for. How we get the results is important, but our thought processes, how we analyse things, how we engage with stakeholders, all these are equally, if not more, important.

Embrace technology in research, but remember it is your mind that makes you unique!


Colin Rice
Research Director, Discovery

This article was first published in InBrief magazine, November 2017
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2017