The MRS Delphi Group, a think tank led by senior leaders and experts in the research and insight sector, today launches its report to guide research businesses and in-house insights teams on their use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The report calls for researchers to consider the nature of the challenge they are addressing before assuming a specific type of AI is the automatic answer. The report The BEST Framework for Gen AI: How and when to build AI into your research processes provides a practical framework to support researchers in making strategic decisions on when and how they use AI within their projects and where investment is best targeted for their needs.

The framework aims to classify the different types of problems researchers seek to tackle, separating these into four quadrants – Boost, Expand, Shift and Transform – and from there identifying the best type of AI use to help achieve the project’s objectives. The most common form, Boost, focuses on automating and optimising well-established and predictable processes. Meanwhile the most complex, Transform, requires building understanding from scratch, making sense of unpredictable environments and relying on emergent data and insights.

The MRS report also showcases use cases and provides tangible examples of how teams are incorporating AI into actual projects, from Ipsos’ Data Liberation platform which streamlines data analysis and reporting, to MMR’s Sensory Chatbot, which delivers more effective qualitative research to better understand consumer experiences with new products. The limitations and risks of implementing AI are also explored, including how the BBC is tackling the perpetuation of misinformation and AI being ‘confidently wrong’.

Alongside the report, MRS is publishing its new ethics guidance on AI. This guidance aims to help practitioners ensure the ethical design, use and outputs of AI to mitigate harmful biases introduced by the input data on which the technology relies. It will be regularly updated to reflect the rapidly evolving policy and regulatory frameworks in this area.

Jane Frost CBE, CEO of MRS, said: “There are a lot of promises and predictions around AI completely transforming everything we do overnight. In reality, much of what is possible with AI at the moment is a continuation of the work that research and insight have been doing for some time with machine learning and other tech. This latest MRS Delphi report provides a practical approach to demystifying the claims surrounding AI and a roadmap to its effective application. As well as the ethical guidance we’re publishing, we’ll soon be offering formal training on the technology’s use in research too.

“There are of course risks involved with AI, which we have to be alive to. I’m confident however that with the right tools and guidance, the sector – which is adept at handling personal data and adopting new technologies – will be able to bring together the power of machines and the creativity and curiosity of human minds for the significant enhancement of our insights.”

Download the reports


The BEST Framework for Gen AI: How and when to build AI into your research processes

MRS Standards Guidance on using AI and related technologies

AI training and events


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