Industry’s research body reveals plans to vet focus groups

Britain’s research industry is taking action to curb so-called ’professionals’ who threaten to distort the accuracy of focus groups.

Britain’s research industry is taking action to curb so-called

’professionals’ who threaten to distort the accuracy of focus

groups.



The move is being made by the Association of Qualitative Researchers,

which claims to represent 90 per cent of those working in the

sector.



It plans to establish a national validation system, which will check the

credentials of people participating in group research and in-depth

interviews.



Its action follows growing concern by advertisers about the number of

’professional respondents’ who are over-used and often do not meet the

specifications of the research project.



The association aims to set up a database of respondents, which will

allow research agencies and their clients to check the validity and

accuracy of respondent recruitment. At present, validation is informal

and restricted to individual agencies.



The initiative comes at a time of growth in the qualitative research

business, estimated to be worth pounds 156 million a year in

revenue.



Laura Marks, the association’s chairman, said: ’Research among clients

has revealed there are some underlying worries. We have decided to take

positive action to pre-empt these concerns and to ensure qualitative

research is utilising the latest methodology to provide the best

possible service.’



The validation system, which should be running by next year, is expected

to be similar to databases operating in the US and France. A project

manager is being hired to evaluate systems in the UK and abroad.



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