Building and maintaining trust in research

Daniel Nunan at the International Journal of Market Research: “One of the many indirect consequences of the COVID pandemic for the research sector may be the impact upon consumers’ willingness to share data. This is reflected in concerns that government mandated “apps” designed to facilitate COVID testing and tracking schemes will undermine trust in the commercial collection of personal data (WARC, 2020). For example, uncertainty over the consequences of handing over data and the ways in which it might be used could reduce consumers’ willingness to share data with organizations, and reverse a trend that has seen growing levels of consumer confidence in Data Protection Regulations (Data & Direct Marketing Association [DMA], 2020). This highlights how central the role of trust has become in contemporary research practice, and how fragile the process of building trust can be due to the ever competing demands of public and private data collectors.

For researchers, there are two sides to trust. One relates to building sufficient trust with research participants to be facilitate data collection, and the second is building trust with the users of research. Trust has long been understood as a key factor in effective research relationships, with trust between researchers and users of research the key factor in determining the extent to which research is actually used (Moorman et al., 1993). In other words, a trusted messenger is just as important as the contents of the message. In recent years, there has been growing concern over declining trust in research from research participants and the general public, manifested in declining response rates and challenges in gaining participation. Understanding how to build consumer trust is more important than ever, as the shift of communication and commercial activity to digital platforms alter the mechanisms through which trust is built. Trust is therefore essential both for ensuring that accurate data can be collected, and that insights from research have necessary legitimacy to be acted upon. The two research notes in this issue provide an insight into new areas where the issue of trust needs to be considered within research practice….(More)”.