By Michael Mermelstein, Executive VP/Partner, Nichols Research, Fremont, California, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quallies Adapt Readily to Dynamic Industry Changes
As my year as QRCA President will end in September, I want to express my admiration to all who practice the art and science of qualitative research. Simply put, I am awed by the amazing group of people who make up QRCA. I can’t give enough thanks to this year’s Board of Directors and all the member volunteers who put so much effort into bringing to us the sense of community and the learning they share. It is wonderful to work with so many who care about making our organization and our future QRCA such a world-class organization. The reason to be involved is to work with and on behalf of the members who all share the goal of upping our game, so to speak, in the work we do.
As I reflect on this past year, whether we are experienced practitioners or new to qualitative research, we have been living through massive changes in how we work. Technology will continue to drive even more change and will even challenge the relevancy of qualitative research as a stand-alone profession.
The myriad changes we have adapted to that have impacted our work include:
- The move from in-person to online for focus groups, IDIs, ethnographies, and online UX
- Learning how to moderate real-time online focus groups on the fly due to COVID
- The continuing development of artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact this will have on how we conduct research
- The reduced time for transcription and translation services
- Machine learning moderation with 24-hour recruiting
- The growing need for “real” participants among the proliferation of online recruiting
- Fighting spammers and bots—yes, even in qualitative
- The need for new ways to recruit when not using databases, online panels, or online platforms, i.e., the use of social media and texting for recruiting
- The development of new platforms that bring qual, quant, and other research tools together in one place
- The cost pressure on facilities that has led to higher prices and includes the closing of facilities in secondary markets
- The continued challenges for moderators to break through to understand respondents beyond their initial responses, especially now when moderating online
QRCA works to help members learn about and adapt to these myriad changes. We share common goals of providing high-level work and high-quality insights to our clients, taking them to where quantitative research can’t go. We work as an organization to elevate qualitative research by raising its level of awareness and value, both with clients and within the industry.
QRCA members have always been extremely generous with their time and their expertise. Whether speaking at conferences, chapter/SIG meetings, or on webinars, we have this unique culture of sharing—including the upcoming QRCA Worldwide Conference in Lisbon in October 2023, where discussion topics will include hybrid (offline/online) research, exploring how COVID has changed qualitative research, talking in depth about the various impacts of AI, diving into young people’s willingness to share their views in public contexts such as focus groups, and more.
Or at QRCA’s first-ever Latin American Conference in September 2023, where we will learn about the need to develop skills that incorporate not only ethnography, conversation analysis, and semiotics but also the new challenges created by AI in terms of the importance of using precise language in our work. We seek to understand the opinions and perspectives that Latin Americans may have regarding different situations, delving into their ways of thinking, attitudes, and general lifestyle. QRCA looks to support its members and to give voice to qualitative research throughout our industry.
Take advantage of or create opportunities to broaden your own horizon and to expand your knowledge and your network. Share your expertise with those who work in the qualitative research space, many of whom are QRCA members.
- Speak at conferences, symposiums, workshops, and webinars
- Present at chapter and SIG meetings
- Write a blog post
- Write for VIEWS magazine
Take advantage of our programs, those offered by Qualology, or at the various events QRCA sponsors. It does make a difference when we all come together to understand our world, even as it changes around us.