Past Research Network events
Connecting Experienced Researchers

Archive of Market and Social Research Summer Party

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Every year AMSR hosts a meeting for its supporters to tell them what it has been doing and about plans for the future. This year, the early evening meeting was transformed from a fairly staid event in February at the IPA to a Summer Party at Kings College London. The event was held in the impressive surroundings of the eighth floor conference suite and roof terrace at Bush House on The Strand. Unfortunately it was a rather cool and cloudy evening, but that did not stop many of the 60 guests enjoying the surprisingly bosky view from the roof terrace down Kingsway and across to Hampstead Heath.

The structure of the event was evening drinks from 6pm-8pm with a half hour slot in the middle for four speakers. Denise Lievesley CBE, the AMSR President and former head of the UK Data Archive at Essex University, welcomed the guests and introduced the speakers. She stressed the importance of preserving data collected at the time if you want to properly understand what was happening.

Bobby Duffy, Director of The Policy Institute and Professor of Public Policy at Kings talked about the essential role of preserving research information to correct misunderstandings about trends in society that influence decisions about social policy. He peppered his talk with amusing examples about changing attitudes to sex, death and doctors over the last 30 years which are at odds with what people nowadays believe about the past.

Kelly Beaver, Chief Executive of Ipsos UK and Ireland, picked up the thread kicked off by Bobby, emphasising the importance of taking a long term view. She explained that to do this, it is essential to preserve contemporaneous research about what real people were thinking at the time. AMSR is playing a vital role ensuring that this material is not lost because it no longer has immediate commercial value. She said that the coming challenge for AMSR will be dealing with the impact of digital technology. There are no longer written reports. Presentations, videos and web portals are how research data is delivered to its users now. She said that Ipsos will continue to support the work of AMSR and expressed the hope that others will see the value in what AMSR is doing and help to contribute.

Phyllis Macfarlane, Head of Collections at AMSR, introduced the audience to the different kinds of users that the Archive is dealing with and the type of service they expect. She talked about the results of independent research into agencies’ archiving practices that AMSR had commissioned. It demonstrated that agencies are not really aware of the value of their old research and a lot of early digital material has already been lost. However, the agencies contacted were willing to contribute in future what is theirs to give. Phyllis told the audience the type of material she would like to receive. She emphasised that she wanted qualitative research and commercial research, not just social research, because these types of research help to interpret and understand observed behaviour.

Patrick Barwise, Chairman of AMSR and Emeritus Professor of management and marketing at London Business School, said that a lot has been done and AMSR has maintained momentum despite the Pandemic, and there is still a lot more to do. He asked the audience to think about how they could help. AMSR needs the insight sector to help it preserve material that reflects our ever evolving markets and society. AMSR, although run by volunteers, needs about £35,000 a year to keep going. In a few years AMSR will be able to approach funding bodies like the ESRC and AHRC once it has built up an academic track record but, for the moment, it relies on the generosity of its supporters. He thanked Ipsos for their generous financial support from the beginning, and the event sponsors The Policy Institute and OvationMR.

After the formal part of the evening finished, the party continued. The guests included several members of the Research Network. For those of you who would like to know more, there is information on the AMSR website including a Newsletter article that gives a more detailed report