There have been many changes to the way research and participant recruitment is conducted over the last year. One positive development in 2020 was the launch of the Recruiter Accreditation Scheme (RAS), developed by MRS and AQR. The purpose of the scheme is to provide training and professional recognition to recruiters as well as address quality concerns about some recruitment practices.

As a qualitative fieldwork recruitment agency and MRS Company Partner, Criteria Fieldwork are already RAS Accredited for participant recruitment which is conducted in house. However, in common with many other fieldwork agencies, we also work with freelance independent recruiters. From 31st March 2021, RAS accredited companies must ensure that at least 50% of all external recruiters that are used are RAS accredited recruiters, unless specific and identified circumstances or geography prevents this.

In December, Criteria Fieldwork got in touch with recruiters to make them aware of the changes we are implementing and encouraging them to join the scheme. It is great to see that many have already passed the accreditation with flying colours but there is still a way to go, so we will be continuing to promote this to the recruiters we work with regularly and encourage them to complete the accreditation.

Once accredited we have asked recruiters to share their accreditation number and accreditation expiry date with Criteria so that we can record this on our field management system. We will then be able to monitor accreditation going forward to make sure we prioritise the use of accredited recruiters. Where it is strictly necessary to work with a recruiter who has not yet passed the accreditation, our field management system will automatically require the user to record a valid reason for using an unaccredited recruiter.

I feel RAS is a positive step, which should help improve recruitment practices in market research and I hope, encourage new recruiters to join the industry.

Rachael Penny

Associate Director, Criteria Fieldwork and AQR Board member

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