I’m a big believer in education. Now, perhaps this is not surprising given I have three university degrees. (Although I will admit my enjoyment of student life was a significant factor in dedicating a decade to being one!) Despite my personal attainment, I do not believe that formal education is the be all and end all.
Education takes many forms. We learn the majority of what we know ‘on the job’. This is true for me. I have learned, and continue to learn, much of what I apply in my daily role through doing, talking with colleagues, widespread reading and attending conferences. And given how quickly business is evolving and new technology is disrupting, these learning mechanisms are set to be meaningful forms of education for the foreseeable future.
This all said, the foundations of what I do – how to conduct valid and reliable research – comes from my formal education. It is where I learned the established methodological principles around sampling, questionnaire design, interviewing techniques, data analysis and so on. While much has changed in recent years (see this ‘Evolution of Research Approaches’ infographic for a visual on the developments), the foundations of what we do still apply. They may need to be adapted, or in some cases re-thought, but without applying those foundations as a starting point, we are working blindly, which puts the data we gather at risk.
My belief in the importance of research foundations is why I am an advocate for the Market Research Institute International (MRII) and am honored to be on their Board of Directors. The MRII’s mission is ‘helping good market researchers get better’. As part of their commitment to this mission, they have recently reimagined their offering for contemporary researchers by creating Principles Express; a series of online certificate courses that cover the Market Research Process from beginning to end. Each course runs from 12-14 hours long and researchers can take one, a few, or all courses depending on their needs.
So if you would like to brush up on Advanced Analytical Techniques, improve on Communicating Research Results, learn about Emerging Methods and the Future of Market Research (a course authored by yours truly), or a number of other topics, take a look at their site to see what is right for you.