Background to the Recruiter Accreditation Scheme


The Recruiter Accreditation Scheme (RAS) has been developed by the Market Research Society (MRS) and the Association for Qualitative Research (AQR) to raise the profile and status of recruiters, by devising a training and accreditation scheme that will recognise the knowledge, skills and competence of professional recruiters.

MRS is responsible for…

AQR is responsible for…

  • Structure of the Scheme
  • Training materials
  •  Assessment materials 
  •  Developing research participant materials 
  •  Liaison with buyers and commissioners of qualitative research recruitment services
  •  Liaison with buyers and commissioners of qualitative research recruitment services
  • Promotion of the Scheme
  •  Promotion of the Scheme
  •  Setting and enforcing standards including the Recruiter Regulations



Although the focus is on the recognition of the knowledge, skills and competence requirements for professional recruiters, the overall aim of the scheme is to improve the quality of qualitative recruitment by all parties throughout the qualitative recruitment supply-chain:

  • For recruiters and recruitment organisations the accreditation will provide professional recognition and build professional status.  

  • For those that commission qualitative recruitment to raise awareness of the problems of poor recruitment commissioning and improve overall standards, including the need for more realistic recruitment quotas, timescales, etc.

  • For buyers access to a pool of professionally recognised accredited recruiters to enable positive purchase discrimination.  

The success of the Scheme will ultimately depend upon buyers making the positive choice to buy quality recruitment from recognised accredited recruiters and recruitment organisation, as this will drive demand for recruiters to seek accreditation.


Why has the RAS been created?

The working environment for qualitative research recruitment can be very challenging.

There is excellent qualitative recruitment where:

  •        high standards are maintained  
  •        in quota participants are recruited
  •        robust procedures are adopted confirming participant identities, etc.
  •        strict adherence to all legal and ethical requirements is maintained


There are however, examples of bad practice exemplified by:

  •        repeat participants
  •        fake participants      
  •        poor show levels
  •        biased recruitment e.g. online recruitment sites “earn cash”
  •        data collected and used in breach of Data Protection Act 2018
  •        no appreciation or understanding of MRS Code of Conduct 

Often the examples of bad practice are due to stresses within the environment for recruiting participants, particularly:

Reduced/unrealistic time scales     

Squeezed budgets: 

  • agencies with reduced margins
  • recruiters who have had no real fee increase for + 10 years

Lack of time:

  • for agencies to check quality
  • for recruiters to meet quotas

Unrealistic/too demanding quotas encourage corner-cutting:

  • by agencies and fieldwork companies
  • by recruiters

Poor questionnaires:

  •  difficult to understand
  • difficult to administer
  • difficult to fulfil

Very high demand in certain areas:

  •  participant pool is small
  • public does not perceive value of research

Low coverage of recruiters in certain areas plus an ageing recruiter profile

 The aim of the RAS is to raise awareness of the challenges facing qualitative recruiters, increase understanding of the issues by all those involved in the supply chain to ease some if not all of the constraints, and improve the research recruitment environment with improved recruitment undertaken as a result.