QRCA is broadening its membership to include researchers that work on the client side as well as those that work at agencies, and I am looking forward to this expansion.
What is QRCA?
Officially, QRCA (the Qualitative Research Consultant Association) is a global association of the most innovative, collaborative and passionate market research professionals and is dedicated to maximizing the power of qualitative. In my opinion QRCA is an organization that makes qualitative researchers better at what they do. QRCA does this with wide-ranging programming that shares best practices, new techniques, and innovative learning. But what makes it particularly special is that it does this in a warm, welcoming and supportive environment. While it may seem odd that a group of “competitors” get together to advance their learning, it actually makes sense for two reasons. First, when the quality of qualitative research is high, end clients are likely to do more of it, which helps everyone. And second, QRCA colleagues often partner with each other for larger projects.
What’s the big deal with the membership expansion?
Professionals who design, conduct, analyze or support the conduct of primary qualitative research are now eligible to join QRCA, no matter where they work. In the past, QRCs who worked in-house and or at ad agencies were not allowed to join.
For those of us that are longtime members, this expansion will bring an infusion of new thinking and skills. I am looking forward to learning from these qualitative experts who have different experiences and perspectives. QRCs who are newly able to join, get to participate in the range of programming that we find so beneficial. In the end we all win and hopefully end clients will win, as we all become better researchers.
What to do if you decide to join?
There are so many ways to participate in QRCA!
Join a local chapter. Most major cities have one and it is an instant way to feel involved. The programming at the local chapters is interesting and it is a great way to get to know people. If you do not have a local chapter, there are virtual chapters, including an International Chapter. Since QRCA has a worldwide membership the International Chapter is very vibrant.
Join a SIG (Special Interest Group). This is a great way to meet people who have similar interests or practices and to stay abreast of the latest developments in the arena. I am one of three co-chairs of the QRCA Online SIG and belonging to this group has helped me stay current with developments and be a better researcher.
Volunteer for anything. QRCA is a volunteer organization and there are always opportunities to help. By volunteering you will instantly be involved in something meaningful and help further the organization. It will give you a natural home in the organization and help you meet other QRCs with whom you can collaborate on the volunteer position and perhaps client projects.
Join the Forum. This is how you keep up with the news about what is going on, who needs volunteers and what is being said about all aspects of research. And feel free to jump in with questions, answers or general musings. The Forum is accessible only to members.
Attend a conference. QRCA conferences are GREAT. The speaking sessions are carefully curated so they provide great learning. The round tables and other less formal gatherings are full of practical tips and ideas. And new members are welcomed via formal ambassadors as well as informally welcomed by all. Currently the main QRCA conference is held in January in the US. The upcoming Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research (co-sponsored by AQR) is happening in May in Valencia, Spain. New QRCA members will receive a discounted price to attend.
What do you think about the change in QRCA’s membership criteria?