Plus c'est la même chose
Repealing Reg's law

Does evidence still matter?

Laast week there was an interview of sorts with Gayle Fuguitt on Research-Live.  At one point she says:

"We did some work asking our management what they were looking for from us and one of the points they raised was the issue of speed versus precision. The point wasn’t that they didn’t want precision; the issue is that we sometimes get carried away with precision and we don’t have an answer ready when it’s needed."

Her comment was in the context of social media, but to my ear it sounded very much like something I heard Tony Cowling (then Chairman of TNS) say over 10 years ago about online surveys.

These are smart, serious people who understand this industry much better than I ever will, not some entrepreneur trying to sell a client on the next big thing.  Call it what you will—just good enough, quick and dirty, fit for purpose— but I think it’s a pretty accurate description of where research buyers have taken MR over the last decade and there is no doubt in my mind that we should expect this trend to continue.  They are the buyers, the customers, and they get to decide.  After all, it’s their business, they’re the ones taking the risks.  There is not much of a future in telling people what to buy if they don’t want to buy it.

I am one of those (apparently) old-fashioned guys who believes that good research balances evidence and insight. Over the last decade that balance has shifted dramatically in favor of insight, creating the opportunity for new methods whose evidence is sometimes shaky or at least escapes any serious evaluation.  But they provide answers.

On its website the MRS says, “The quality standards, suitability and sustainability of evidence is important because evidence matters to decision makers.”  If only that were the case.