A career in Qualitative Research ………..

A directory and handbook from the AQR (Association of Qualitative Researchers) recently landed on my desk, and has prompted me to write a post about this as a potential career area for PPLS grads. Many grads are interested in using their research skills in their future career, and link this to the more obvious careers in academia, but perhaps don’t think more broadly about other ways to build on these skills.

We’ve a whole section on our website about different ways to use your research skills, but for today, I’m going to concentrate on Qualitative research, and point you in the direction of the many useful insights and resources on the AQR website.

This includes a useful definition of just what is meant by Qualitative research, and its place in the market research industry……

‘The market research industry is a thriving sector made up of three main types of research.

  • First there is quantitative, instantly recognisable to those addicted to opinion polls.
  • Then there is electronic data collection – each time you use a loyalty card such as Tesco’s Club Card (and we’ve a recent grad working in this area too!) you’ll be participating.
  • Finally there is qualitative research, the touchy feely end of the market, comprising about 20% of the overall market, which uses focus groups and personal interviewing to gather data. These consist of informal discussions with small groups of people, or in-depth interviews, organised and interpreted by highly experienced qualitative researchers, who do not produce ‘scores and tables’ but a report on their analysis of the discussions and offer recommendations for further action.

Qualitative research is an integral part of decision making used by senior business executives, best summed by the statement:

“While quantitative research tells you the ‘who’ and the ‘what’, qualitative research explains the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the ‘what’”.’

And good news for PPLS grads in general, and psychology grads in particular – there are no hard and fast rules regarding degree-discipline in this career area, and the most common degree for Qual researchers is psychology!

As with many media – related jobs, you may need to get proactive in finding your first position in this area – using directories such as the one on the AQR website to identify relevant agencies, and sending out  your well-targeted CV and cover letter outlining your relevant skills, experience and enthusiasm for this area of work – use our advice on this speculative approach to help you make the most of your approach.

Alternatively you’ll find jobs advertised on sites such as Research Jobfinder – advertising a wide range of market research jobs, including Qualitative ones.

You’ll find more sites advertising research-related jobs via our Research Services information

And if all this has stimulated your interest, find out how one psychology grad started his career in this area, by reading Tom’s case study.

As Tom says in his case study

“If you find human nature fascinating and are interested in business and marketing then I would highly recommend pursuing a career in qualitative research.’



This entry was posted in English language and linguistics, General interest, Mainly for Masters students, Philosophy, Psychology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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