Navigating the Righteous Course: A Quality Issue

John Pallister
Cardiff University
Clive Nancarrow
Bristol Business School
and
Ian Brace
BJM Research and Consultancy Ltd

Background

In 1998 a number of initiatives in the UK marketing research industry took place to improve the ethical standards of the profession. The MRS (Market Research Society, UK) carried out a major revision of the Code of Conduct in accordance with ICC/ESOMAR (European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research) and launched a joint Code of Conduct. The MRS supported the launch with a problems column in its monthly Research magazine issued to members. MRS members are invited to send in their queries about ethical issues, which are then answered in the column. In recognition that qualitative research has its own requirements in terms of a code of conduct, the MRS launched a Guide to Qualitative Research. In addition, the Association of Qualitative Research Practitioners (AQRP) started a process of consultation to construct guidelines to raise the professional standards of recruitment so that those conducting or commissioning research can check that respondents: are who they say they are; and have been to the groups they said they have been to. In particular, the major concern about professional respondents is addressed. Some of the practical issues relating to the latter two initiatives have been covered elsewhere (Nancarrow 1998). While practitioners concern themselves with practical means of improving the professionalism of the industry, academics tend to focus on understanding the influences on ethical judgments. However, the two activities are currently linked by understanding the influences on and process of forming ethical judgments. These judgments will help practitioners address, in the longer term, education and training issues relating to the Code of Conduct and industry members.

Basic concepts