I’m an anonymous (for now) research professional with very little patience for stupidity, both at work and in the real world.

I believe the research industry is a mess, on both the public opinion and the market research sides of the business — and I believe the vast majority of the problems are caused by the people writing the research, not the respondents. Yes, “professional survey takers” are a problem, but the bigger problem is that researchers are creating research that tends to range between mediocre and horrid. Questions are too long; answer choices are rarely mutually exclusive; phrasing is too filled with jargon. Respondents are asked to compare too many items on too many axises. Interface design is horrible. Redundant questions, supposedly created to weed out “cheaters,” instead encourage “cheating” by making the research projects too unwieldy for average respondents to cope with.

In short, it’s bad. Really, really bad.

Let’s make it better.


34 responses to “About

  1. Hooray! A partner in crime.

    ; )

    Am working my way through your blog now; finding myself nodding furiously in agreement with most of your posts.

    Great stuff!

    : )

    Off to read more now…

  2. I’m really just glad to know I’m not alone in this!

  3. Interesting blog! well done

  4. Why anonymous? I have exactly the same beefs as you and will tell anyone who wants to listen.Open and honest dialogue is the only way to realize change. Be brave and stand up for your opinions. If your current company doesn’t appreciate them, their competitors will.

  5. It’s a fine line. I don’t pull any punches in my criticism, but some of the people I criticize are competitors or clients, and that can be a recipe for trouble. Down the road, anything’s possible, but not yet.

  6. gonnabeagradsoon

    but overall do you enjoy working in the research industry??

    i ask, because as a potential graduate this year i’ve seen potential research posts i might apply for…would you advise it?

    for you, what have been the highs, and lows in your career?

  7. I do enjoy what I do — though I also have very little personally to do with the sorts of bad research I highlight here. I don’t think I’d be happy if I worked for someone who seemed to be just pushing low quality research through the system, or someone who was unwilling to listen to suggestions on how to stop abusing their respondents.

    Personally, I’d say my high points have been when I’ve worked in the political arena and had a good season, ranking at or near the top of the list of competing pollsters. It’s one thing to talk and debate theory, and quite another to actually get back proof that what you believed and put into practice was in fact correct. Not sure what I’d say is my lowest point, though — but it’s probably related to the (thankfully not many) times that I have had to push through a project that I wasn’t proud of.

  8. gonnabeagradsoon

    thanx for replying.

    i never really thought research as a career before, but the post looks interesting – it’s in the pharmacetical industry and i’m gonna give the application a go.

    your site (and post) was very insightful.

  9. bobbo

    Hello there. I’d like to talk to you about an idea. Could you contact me on the email I’ve supplied? Anonymity will be respected.

  10. Pingback: Actualize Consulting: Market Research Blog » RE: Is the panel research business model creating a gold farming problem?

  11. fellow_researcher

    How can I submit some of the enjoyable cr$% that I encounter to you? Congratulations – you are like the Robin Hood of the MR world.

  12. Cross Man

    we miss you. are you okay?

  13. I’m good, and I’m sorry. I’ve been swamped with both work and real life, and I keep meaning to return to this, and every time I’m about to start, something else comes up! I’ll try to get started again soon…

  14. Chris

    You should provide an RSS feed. I enjoy your posts but don’t often get a chance to browse in order to see when you post updates.

  15. I think I do, actually, via WordPress — see if this works for you:

  16. Just found out about your site from Ray Poynter at New MR and am thrilled to find other tomato throwers. I also would like an RSS feed, and to be your next best friend.

  17. Thank you, Susan! Always glad to find out there are more of us. Does that “feed” link one comment up not work? I’m embarrassingly not up to speed on RSS, but when I click that, it lets me subscribe to it right in my browser.

  18. Love this initiative. It is one that almost all will always agree but very few comply.

  19. Paul

    I have got an example of a really bad questionnaire that you might like to post. How can I send it to you?

  20. Pingback: Brandon E. Bertelsen » RE: Is the panel research business model creating a gold farming problem?

  21. Sounds like we are of like minds. Would love to meet you some day.


  22. We seem to be taking different approaches, but we appear to have the same end in mind. Clean up market research – I agree it is a mess!

    The Research Playbook

  23. Hi, I love this site…I´d like to send you one of MY rants…like this 11-point-scale ranging from daily to never (http://kathrinmaass.de/2010/10/04/something-betw…aily-and-never/).


  24. I’d love to invite you to be a contributing author to ResearchAccess.com – a site dedicated to the Market Research Community. We would certainly preserve your anonymity, but we’d love for you to share your view with a wider audience. Please e-mail me at josh.hoffman at researchaccess dot com if you’re interested!

  25. josh

    Couldn’t. Agree. More.

  26. Karen Duchan

    I don’t need to know who you are (though I would love to). You are my new hero. Thanks for saying all the things I’ve been thinking for years. You rock. Yay!

  27. Just want to say that we are loving your work (1st linked you last year in “What in the world can you learn from a sixty minute survey that you can’t learn from a 5-minute one?” (Just Say No Already). ) Top writing style, we share your bugbears.

  28. rume?

    See my profile at terry kaufman on linkedIn, unless my recent acct mgmt. changes there cut me off as much as I intended. In any case please know that I share your perspective on the erosion of the professional quality of MR over the past few decades. But I blame that on an utter lack of knowledge by the sponsors of MR, and their employers/sponsors cut from the same cloth, i.e. MBA’s, a group of which I happen to be a member. And the proliferation of MBA’s is an Academic-Corporate Industrial Complex (sorry, I couldn’t help that) which is utterly self serving and lacking in expertise. I’m not sure it makes sense to blame research suppliers, since their/our job is to accept the money of clients in return for doing what they think they want, since if we don’t, someone else will. Even if some suppliers have the rare combination of integrity AND expertise, there are too many who do not. It is survival of the fittest, not of the ideal.

    And yeah, we need to do a focus group, just like on The TV News, right?!. “Our focus group showed that people….”.

  29. Dear research ranter, I love your work. I am from a background of super stiff consumer insights (and in such a position ran 45 minute long max-diff studies of deodorant packaging). Then I went to a trandisciplinary design school, and now I am back on top of a research agency in which I have lots of leeway to design good studies. Are you still around? Would love to be in touch. Otherwise perhaps I can threaten more matrices with such questions as “Do you like your Orange juice brand’s personality to be ‘Warm’?”

    Thanks a great deal for your work. My contact info is entered. All the best!

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