Written by IFF Research

Remaining impartial in the research industry

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For many organisations developing a set of values can be a challenging process. It can be difficult to concisely define the nature and intentions of a business without ending up with an overstated proclamation, largely influenced by what you believe clients want to hear.

At IFF, we have done everything we can to avoid such an approach and have instead used the exercise as an opportunity to reflect on the way we work rather than the other way around, sharing an insight into the true nature of what our organisation has grown to become over the last 50 years.

In this blog series we want to put our values under the spotlight, explain their true meaning and analyse their importance in the landscape of the research industry as a whole.

An impartial existence

In essence our organisation exists to find answers. In most cases the answers we reveal are presented as a fact, finding or recommendation and for this reason we must be able to stand by their integrity to justify the legitimacy of our work. Trust is built by maintaining this legitimacy with clients, but we also carry a responsibility to ensure our findings have not been influenced or steered by pressure from clients who may have commissioned work to confirm their own opinion or in some cases even justify their existence.

The EU referendum has provided some good examples of bad practice with both sides of the debate using figures that they feel will influence the outcome in their favour for their own gain rather than educating or informing the general public. This kind of selective analysis is exactly what we try to avoid at IFF instead looking to reveal the full picture and offer fair and objective recommendations.

Testing integrity

Integrity is really put to the test when a stakeholder or clients preferred outcome is different to that shown by research findings and we are put in the difficult situation of having to push back against someone we clearly want to remain on good terms with. It becomes even more difficult when this comes off the back of information which can be interpreted in different ways. We have seen many examples of client pressure at IFF but always push for what we believe to be the most ethical and reasonable analysis.

For this reason, we consider ourselves fortunate to exist as an independent entity free from internal pressure to toe the line when shades of grey emerge. In the end we have been commissioned to give our expert opinion and we believe that our conviction and commitment to our recommendations is one of the main reasons we continue to be chosen as an independent and impartial authority.