Udo Reuter
Amsterdam 1995
The 7 Mortal Sins in Qualitative Research

"Qualitative research" has had a most ambivalent image for quite a long time. On the one hand it is appreciated as an indispensable support of marketing, enjoying the glory of a research that helps to understand the world and to provide safe guidance.

On the other hand it is referred to as faulty, not valid, a ''disreputable technique'', a playing field for amateurs. The catalogue of sins is long.

In fact there are considerable discrepancies and contradictions between theory and practice, between recognised norms and reality. This paper is concerned with illuminating and investigating the discrepancy between the excellent knowledge on good qualitative research and the practice of applied qualitative research.

The analysis leads to the conclusion that first of all there is need for a new and clear definition of the paradigm of qualitative research, in order to know what we talk and negotiate about. The investigation of frequent mistakes and weaknesses in the practice of qualitative research reveals a number of causes which, in a way, are inherent in the system, structure and procedures of modern marketing. The MORTAL SINS of qualitative researchers contribute to consolidate these problems, allowing qualitative research to be abused by unprofessional researchers.

The analysis leads to concrete conclusions how the effectiveness of qualitative research could be improved in practice. This requires a change of mind set and behaviour with both partners involved: research buyers and research suppliers.

One of the preconditions for an effective change is to give up the global label of ''qualitative research'', which is misleading and void of meaning.