This paper examines the issue of consultancy as an inherent and inevitable element of much qualitative research and looks at the way this affects the relationship between buyers and suppliers. Some difficulties of definition are explored, especially in the light of the enormous variation in qualitative research applications. The paper acknowledges that it is difficult to draw a useful divide between research and consultancy across the variety of different projects, and goes on to suggest that the more interesting question is how consistent buyers are in their attitudes within any one project. It is argued that at some stages of a project buyers show considerable concern for the rigour of the process, but at others are cavalier about the process and appear to be placing their trust much more in the researcher than the research itself. The paper concludes that some buyers apply a sort of double standard. They want a consultancy product from a research process. The quality of research conducted and the usefulness of the findings would both be enhanced if buyers had a more honest and better examined understanding of the relationship between the process and the findings.