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Jane Frost Blog

Jane Frost Blog

Four research resolutions for 2017


2016 was in many ways a year to which many of us were pleased to say goodbye. Our 70th anniversary year however was a successful celebration which saw record attendances to our training and events, including big ticket items like Impact 2016 and MRS Awards where we saw numbers well on their way to 900 delegates for each event.

The enthusiasm of the sector matches its rapid growth as identified in the PwC Business of Evidence 2016 report – a 62% growth in market value since 2012, from £3bn to £4.8bn.

Whether 2017 will be any better remains to be seen, but we researchers should be an optimistic bunch. To be curious is to want to know more, understand more and improve more, across business and society. The Business of Evidence report showed a demand for more of those services we provide. Data analytics is the biggest opportunity obviously, but there is also a growing appetite for more qualitative research, as more people look at the numbers and ask the question 'why?' (there's more on this in the Research Live Industry Report 2017).

This sounds like the basis for some good new year’s resolutions. Here are four of ours:

1. Better reflect the society we live (and work) in

MRS is conducting a review of diversity and inclusion in our industry. To understand people and society, we need to reflect them. We need your opinions and experiences to assess where we are as an industry, how we compare to other sectors and how we can improve things. In partnership with GMI Lightspeed, we will be conducting a survey of the sector and we need a high level of response on this critical issue. Safeguarding the future of the sector means ensuring it represents the real world.

2. Democratise access to data and insight

MRS is a partner of Paragon, a collaboration across governments, research agencies, academics, NGOs and clients to provide access to a single source of information. Paragon supports the UN Global Goals to end poverty, combat climate change, and fight injustice and inequality around the world. You can read more about Paragon here. 

3. Champion evidence to counter ‘post truth’

Post truth, post factual. These concepts are contrary to the values of our sector and I welcome the return of our Evidence Matters logo (which we had replaced temporarily in 2016 with our 70th anniversary logo). The case for evidence-based decision making is under attack from fake news and those who devalue the role of experts and specialists, in favour of populism and hearsay.

4. In everything we do, feel the quality, not the quantity

It would be great if we could see a reduction in one particular statistic - complaints! Businesses and the public must equate the research and insight sector, regardless of method or discipline, with quality and integrity.

Do our resolutions sound ambitious? They are. But all four fall neatly into our founding mission to ‘promote, protect and connect' the research and insight sector.

So it is with optimistic anticipation of the year ahead, challenging as it may be, that I wish you - a little belatedly - ‘Happy New Year’.

Let’s work even more closely in 2017 to grow your business and ensure that evidence, fairness and inclusion is ingrained in everything we do.

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