OPINION4 March 2020

What’s top of your research agenda for 2020?

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Jane Frost, CEO of MRS issues a call to arms for the research sector ahead of next week’s Impact 2020 annual conference.


"I look forward to welcoming you to Impact 2020 – the conference that helps set the agenda for the research sector in the new decade and beyond."


Possibly the only predictable phenomenon in the next decade will be that we will encounter huge amounts of unpredictability. Even those with both feet in the camp of prediction wouldn’t bet their house on much other than macro observations and trends. Decision makers are looking to our sector for help.

One of the biggest challenges this next decade brings to our sector is that of inclusive research – bringing to attention the voices of the marginalised, the unheard and the unspoken for. Evidence has no value when it is partial, biased or selective.

The decade just gone is strewn with examples of inaccurate sampling, assumed thinking in research design, and false interpretation. Just look at some of the polling failures, discriminatory product design, and blurring between fact and fiction in the media.

Sustainability and the global climate crisis will define every aspect of how we live. Our work will be vital to help change behaviours in order to ensure the future of our (and other) species.

It is our sector too, that will have a significant voice in the debate around issues such as the gender impact of climate change. We know how to ask the right questions – questions that will ensure a thorough understanding of the problems, and that enable evidence-based decision making.

We cannot afford to ignore the voices from the fringes of climate change – those most affected, those with the best knowledge and ideas. Those voices will contain the answers we need to influence change.

Yes, it’s a heavy weight on our shoulders, and a heavy way to open conference. This is the research sector’s chance to be part of the solution. It is both a responsibility and an honour.  

Find out more about Impact 2020

You can see our exciting line of speakers and sessions here including:

We asked clients and leading agencies what is top of their agenda for 2020: