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Research heroes: Reg Baker

Reg Baker retired from Market Strategies International in 2012 after seventeen years, during which he served as both COO and President. He is now Executive Director of non-profit educational body the Marketing Research Institute International (MRII), an organisation that develops the Principles of Market Research courses for the University of Georgia. Reg began his career at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center in the early 1980s, where he was responsible for data collection systems and the national field staff, and has drawn on his experience of both the operational and analytical sides of the sector as a member of the IJMR Executive Editorial Board and ESOMAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career that research could be this dynamic, interesting and rewarding. I have been fortunate to be part of four major transitions - to CATI, to CAPI, to web, and now mobile. It has been a great ride and it’s not over yet.

I most admire anyone with integrity, by which I mean people who always do the right thing.

The best research project I have worked on during my career was the US National Medical Expenditures Survey. We started with a sample of 18,000 US households, intervewed them in person four times over the course of one year and collected data about every household’s medical event - the provider, the diagnosis, the procedure, how it was paid and by whom. Then we went to all of those providers, payers, and employers to collect more data about their side of the transaction.

The worst research project I have worked on during my career was the US National Medical Expenditures Survey…

The most amazing or memorable experience when I was doing research was the first successful national CAPI survey in the US. It felt like we had accomplished something really important.

The one story I always wanted to tell but never had a chance? Well, I think I already have told them all.

A research project I wish I had done is any project that produced results which were used to make people’s lives better. Not just better products, but a major improvement in their quality of life.

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be a sportswriter or maybe a history professor at some small town liberal arts college somewhere in the US.

The biggest challenge for our field in the next 10 years is separating the wheat from the chaff in all of these new methods and techniques we see presented breathlessly at conference after conference, each of which is the best approach for doing research that anyone has ever came up with.

My advice for young researchers at the start of their career is do what you love and chances are there is a place for you in research.

Reg will be joining the panel of Fit-for-purpose sampling in the internet age on day 2 of Impact 2015: The MRS Annual Conference. More details can be found here. You can read Reg’s most recent viewpoint article for IJMR here.

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