European Research (March 1973)
We in research are not always adept at self-administering some few questions which are crucial to the successful continuance of the industry. Whether the data collected is for application in social planning or to aid commercial strategy and tactics, the conduct of research rests on two premises: that its sponsors consider its cost-justified in terms of subsequent risk reduction in decision-taking; and that respondents co-operate. Technique improvement and widening research use provide a warrant for the first premise - but what of the second? Few respondents have any clear, unbiased concept of the true purpose and value of research. Even with good professional practice, our depth of probing may appear sometimes tedious and often pointless. More seriously, some definite tides now running are against the course of research. Consumerism brings manufacturing interests into critical focus and, in so far as it has an image for the public at all, research maybe seen as more favoring 'them' than 'us'. Again, advertising is today not always the apple of its audience's eye and there is evidence that consumers link research with it. Third, 'privacy' is an actively debated issue and the bourgeoisie often see as large a shadow cast over their rights by the questionnaire as by the computer's memory. For several decades we have viewed 'response rate' as a technical problem and largely presumed on the social acceptability of our efforts. If research is not to find its raw material rights at risk, perhaps we may soon have to take active and overt steps to project our desired image.
- This could also be of interest