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SAMRA Accredited Marketing Researcher (SAR)

1.     DEFINITION AND PURPOSE OF ACCREDITATION

Accreditation or professional recognition means a required standard of professional competence in the understanding and application of knowledge and methods in a specified field has been achieved, and, that the accredited individual is committed to upholding their professional body’s Code of Conduct.

In certain occupations, e.g. medicine, nursing, architecture, where public safety needs are key, accreditation (and registration or licensing) are not only a pre-requisite to offering services in those fields but are regulated by government. Marketing Research (including social and opinion polling research) are not regulated in this way. However, industry recognises the need for a self-regulating process that enables objective assessment of individual competence, quality standards and integrity of work. This is partly in response to the emergence of organisations like the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and various inter-related structures such as the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Quality Councils (QCs) – which are there to ensure education and training standards in South Africa are not only comparable to the rest of the world but also result in a life-long commitment to learning among South Africans, ensuring their on-going employability – locally and globally.

For researchers, besides demonstrating dedication to high quality standards and continuous professional development to raise competency, knowledge and proficiency levels, accreditation provides a competitive edge, enhanced career opportunities and professional recognition of an individual’s qualifications, expertise and contribution among peers in the industry.

Individuals who satisfy the required standards for accreditation are able to use the letters SAR – short for SAMRA Accredited Marketing Researcher – behind their name.

2.     ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS

SAMRA accreditation in Southern Africa is for researchers who have a proven level of professional competency and achievement as researchers based on qualifications (PhD, Masters and/or Honours Degree, Post Graduate Diploma, Undergraduate Degree), SAMRA membership standing, adherence to ethical requirements and active involvement in the industry.

More specifically, applications for accreditation are invited from researchers who meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Maintain SAMRA Partner recognition status for 5 or more consecutive years [1]
  • In possession of a nationally recognised degree from an accredited Higher Education instution (e.g. a university), or equivalent qualification, that includes relevant research course work, or in the absence of a qualification, a SAR Entry RPL Statement of Result (see below)
  • Active involvement in the management and practice of research, its implementation, analysis, reporting and application
  • 5 Or more years management experience in a research related role [2]
  • Adherence to the SAMRA Code of Conduct and no on-the-record evidence of ethics violations and/or poor ethical practices and/or conduct during the past 5 years
  • Meet SAMRA members’ (by a majority of the votes received) and SAMRA Board approval
  • Demonstrate commitment to on-going professional development activities

The SAMRA Board reserves the right of refusal of accreditation where an applicant is not deemed fit and proper for SAR certification. This may arise, for example, in one or more of the following cases:

  • Failing to meet requirements listed above.
  • A gap in an applicant’s knowledge and/or experience, in which case guidelines will be issued on what needs further attention.
  • Failing to successfully complete the SAR entry assessment.
  • Evidence of any misrepresentation of information supplied, e.g. qualifications, work experience or history, references, claimed knowledge/experience etc.
  • On-the-record evidence of ethics violations and/or poor ethical practices and/or conduct during the past 5 years
  • A verifiable, justifiable objection submitted by a SAMRA member.

The reason(s) for not approving an application will be confirmed to the applicant in writing, referring to the specific criterion or rule being contravened. The applicant will have 30 days from the date of the aforementioned letter to respond in writing: no extension will be granted. Note that the applicant is under no obligation to respond but failure to respond may lead to the application being found to be unsuccessful.

A SAMRA Board member may recuse himself/herself from a decision regarding a specific application and the applicant will be informed of this.

If, after the final consideration, an application is found to be unsuccessful, this will be confirmed in writing and the applicant may submit a new application after a stated period subsequent to the date upon which the outcome of the first application was communicated to the applicant.

A minimum requirement has been set for each section of the application form, as follows:

Section A: Background information and qualifications of applicant (all criteria must be met)

Section B: Knowledge and experience with general research processes

(55 statements – at least 66% required)

Section C: Knowledge and experience with qualitative research

(89 statements – see Section C&D below)

Section D: Knowledge and experience with quantitative research

(128 statements – see Section C&D below)

(Section C&D: At least 50% required in one section and 33% in the other)

In the case of already accredited researchers:

  • Meet continuing professional development (CPD) requirements to maintain their SAR recognition status (see Section 4 & 5).
  • Meet SAMRA members’ (by a majority of the votes received) and SAMRA Board approval

3.     APPLYING FOR ACCREDITATION

3.1 Submit SAR Application Form and CV

Those who meet the qualifying criteria outlined in Section 2 above are invited to complete the SAR application form, available on the SAMRA website. This is a self-completion questionnaire developed by the QPMR (Qualified Practising Market Researcher) programme offered by the AMSRS (Australian Market & Social Research Society).

Besides an applicant’s qualifications and work experience, questions cover the individual’s experience and knowledge about research theory and practice in general as well as in a qualitative and quantitative context, across a range of statements.

The questionnaire uses a built in weighting and scoring system that takes into account the diverse nature of the research industry across management and practitioner levels.

The following are then to be forwarded to SAMRA’s offices, c/o SAMRA Directorate, via email (info@samra.co.za), OR posted to PO Box 1713, Randburg, 2125:

  • Applicant’s completed SAR Application Form
  • A CV outlining the applicant’s work history. This should include companies and organisations worked for, in what positions (job titles), length of time at each, PLUS the name of a contact person and their contact details, for each company/organisation worked for. Incorrect information on a CV will result in disqualification of the application.
  • Details of any training and/or education not already listed in the SAR Application Form
  • Copies of certificates, diplomas, degrees in support of professional and other qualifications listed in the SAR Application Form or elsewhere
  • The names and contact details of 2 referees, one of whom must be a SAMRA Partner or SAMRA Accredited Researcher and one of whom is from an organisation other than the applicant’s own.

3.2 SAR Fees Payment

An application fee, to cover administration costs (including a standard CV check), is invoiced on receipt of each application. Upon payment and submission of proof of payment of the fee to SAMRA, the application is processed.

Once approved as a SAR, a registration fee covering annual SAR recognition status will be invoiced. SAR professional recognition fees are payable on an annual basis in March. SAR recognition status is not valid unless fees are paid-up.

3.3 Recognition of Prior Learning

If an applicant does not have a nationally recognised degree, or equivalent qualification from an accredited Higher Education institution, that includes relevant research course work, the applicant may apply for recognition of prior learning (RPL), to be eligible to apply for SAR status.

The RPL process is as follows:

  1. Complete and submit the SAR Application, including the SAR Entry RPL Application form online.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Make an appointment with the SAMRA office for SAR Entry RPL Application registration and a consultation session (in person or online).
  4. Collate all existing evidence relevant for the SAR Entry RPL Application.
  5. Generate all new evidence relevant for the SAR Entry RPL Application.
  6. Submit all evidence for assessment of the SAR Entry RPL Application.
  7. Receive feedback about the result of the SAR Entry RPL Application.
  8. Should an applicant not agree with the result of the SAR Entry RPL Application, the applicant can lodge an appeal with the SAMRA office within 30 days from receiving the feedback. The Appeal Committee is the SAMRA Board and their decision is final.
  9. Receive a SAR Entry RPL Application Statement of Result.
  10. If the SAR Entry RPL Application is successful, the normal SAR application process commences.

The fee for RPL assessment is determined annually. An application fee, to cover administration costs is invoiced on receipt of the RPL Application. Upon payment and submission of proof of payment of the fee to SAMRA, the application is processed. The SAR Application fee is waived for RPL Applicants: The SAR Application fee is waived for SAR Entry RPL Applications: if the SAR Entry RPL Application is successful, the SAR Application is processed without an additional application fee being charged. If approved as a SAR, a registration fee covering annual SAR recognition status will be invoiced. SAR professional recognition fees are payable on an annual basis in March. SAR recognition status is not valid unless fees are paid-up.

The SAR Entry RPL Application requires evidence of the applicant’s experience and knowledge about research theory and practice in general as well as in a qualitative and quantitative context, at a level equivalent to undergraduate research work.

Following completion of the SAR Entry RPL Application process, a SAR Entry RPL Application Statement of Result will be issued. This outlines the result of the SAR Entry RPL Application process, and is valid for no more than 6 months after it is issued. A SAR Entry RPL Application Statement of Result that indicates successful completion of RPL is required for a SAR application process to commence.

Re-application for RPL is invited from those who address gap/s in their knowledge or experience. In the event of re-application, a fresh application and a new application fee is required.

For more information, visit the SAR RPL page on the SAMRA website.

3.4 Issuing the SAR Certificate

Following receipt of the initial registration fee a SAR certificate will be issued. The certifcate has a unique identity number and is valid until 28 February of the year after approval or renewal. The certificate entitles the individual to use the post nominals, SAR (i.e. SAMRA Accredited Marketing Researcher).

3.5 SAR Re-application Following Initial Refusal, for Qualifying Applicants

Re-application for SAR is invited in qualifying cases. Qualifying applicants include those who address gap/s in their knowledge or experience outlined in guidelines provided, and/or on passing the SAR exam, and/or on meeting selection criteria (in Section 2 above) that were not met during the initial application.

In the event of re-application, a fresh application (as per 3.1 – 3.3 above) has to be submitted. This is to be accompanied, where relevant, by evidence of training/education undertaken, and/or work done, to address gaps in experience and/or knowledge highlighted by the directorate in the initial assessment. A new application fee is required with the re-application.

4.     MAINTAINING AND RENEWING SAR STATUS AND CERTIFICATION

SAR certification is renewed every two to three years (i.e. by 28 February of the third year after approval or renewal), at no further administration charge. SARs are asked to keep a verifiable record of all further training or education undertaken for their professional development over each two to three year cycle of accreditation. The record should take the form of documented evidence, and where relevant, paid receipts and evidence of attendance, for each listed activity pursued for continuing professional development (CPD).

SAMRA will issue a reminder 2 months before the individual’s renewal date. Those chosen for audit of their CPD activities – based on a random selection process – will be asked to forward the required evidence of their CPD activities for the preceding 36 months. The audit will be conducted by SAMRA’s directorate or a panel of suitably qualified assessors.

CPD in a selected field may be as a learner, speaker or teacher at workshops, seminars, conferences and other training or education courses, and/or, as a writer/contributor to an industry relevant professional (or professional body’s) publication, whether local or international.

Training and education may be face to face or Internet based, offered by suppliers accredited by one or more of the Quality Councils in South Africa (Umalusi; Council on Higher Education; Quality Council for Trades & Occupations) or, by nationally recognised suppliers in other countries. Non-accredited South African suppliers of information, training and education may also be selected, at the individual’s own discretion, provided they are recognised by SAMRA as bona fide suppliers in good standing.

Examples of fields relevant to SARs’ on-going professional development are given below. These may be chosen within the context of listed specialist disciplines or as self-standing courses. The list is not exhaustive and serves only to illustrate the range and nature of fields that might be pursued. If a course of potential interest to the SAR is not listed please contact SAMRA’s offices to enquire about its suitability.

Business Categories

Adult Learning/Training the Trainer
Business Communications
Business Operations:
§  Business Development/Sales
§  Costing
§  Financial Management
§  Legal
Negotiation
Strategic thinking
Client/Supplier Interaction
Computer Skills
Consumer Behaviour
Customer Service
Financial/Budgeting
HR
Marketing
Project Management:
§  Organising
§  Scheduling
Strategic Thinking
Legal Categories
Government Affairs
Ethics
Privacy

Research Categories
Analysis Skills & Techniques
Coding
Cross cultural (National/International) research
Data collection methods
Data modelling
Data Processing
Ethnography
Incidence
Interviewing skills
Problem ID/Resolution
Programming
Qualitative Techniques
Qual./Quant Techniques
Questionnaire Design
Report Writing/Presentation Skills
Research Design
Research Process
Sampling
Spec/Proposal Writing
Statistics
Technical Knowledge
Technology Trends
Specialist Disciplines
Economics
Psychology
Sociology

Categories Source: USA MRA Education Central (Search Engine)

A scoring system based on time combined with the nature of the CPD activity, whether via learning or knowledge sharing, is used. Each SAR must have accumulated a minimum of 50 points (or credits), over the preceding 36 months to be considered for certification renewal. At least one SAMRA conference, or an equivalent research (or related industry’s) professional body’s conference, e.g. ESOMAR, MRS (UK), SAIMS, must have been attended over the period and counts towards total points accumulated (see Section 5).

It is suggested SARs aim to accumulate more than 50 points over a given 2 to 3 year cycle to allow for the possibility that not all non-accredited training/education/information sharing events may be recognised by SAMRA.

On approval of SAR certification renewal and receipt of the annual SAR recognition fee, a new SAR certificate will be issued for the next 2 to 3 year period.

4.1 Scoring System and Guidelines for CPD

Below is a guideline to accumulating 50 CPD credits or points over a 36 month period. Either one or both broad categories – Learning (SECTION 1) and/or Information/Knowledge Sharing (SECTION 2) – may be selected for this purpose.

SECTION Credited Activity Points Evidence
SECTION 1: LEARNING
1.1 Formal Learning 1.1.1 Doing an industry relevant Higher Certificate or Advanced Certificate, at an accredited Higher Education Institution 10 points on successful completion Brochure or similar formal detail from provider describing course outline/ s.
Evidence of completed qualification.
1.1.2 Doing an industry relevant Degree or Advanced Diploma at an accredited Higher Education Institution 5 points per completed module
(to a maximum of 3 modules per year)
10 additional points on completion of the qualification
Annual evidence of enrolment and fees payment.
Brochure or similar formal detail from Higher Education Institution describing course outline/ s.
Evidence of completed module/ s, or qualification.
1.1.3 Doing an industry relevant Post Graduate qualification (incl. Post Graduate Diploma, Honours, Masters, Doctorate) at an accredited Higher Education Institution Honours/ Post Grad Dipl. 25 points on completion
Masters 70 points on completion
Doctorate 120 points on completion
Outline of research completed, signed off by relevant department head at Higher Education Institution.
Evidence of completed qualification.
1.2 Informal Learning 1.2.1 Attending an industry relevant workshop, training/ education course (including internet-based courses), of at least one day long, which could include relevant short courses extending over 3 months but under 1 year 10 points per completed course Attendance certificate, or certificate of completion, specifying nature and duration of the event/ course.
Official programme outlining event/ course content.
1.2.2 Attending an industry relevant conference that is at least one day long 5 points per day
Maximum of 15 points per event
Attendance certificate signed by conference organisers.
Official conference programme.
1.2.3 Attending an industry relevant information sharing talk/ lecture/ seminar (i.e. short event up to half-day duration), for example, breakfast or lunch information session 3 points per talk/ lecture
Up to a maximum of 6 points per year
Attendance certificate signed by organisers.
Official programme/ lecture outline.
SECTION 2: KNOWLEDGE SHARING
2.1 Presenting/ Speaking/ Teaching 2.1.1 Preparation and delivery of an industry relevant public guest lecture/ talk/ seminar/ workshop/ conference presentation/ training course 10 points per guest lecture/ talk / seminar/ workshop/ conference presentation/ public training course Outline of material presented.
Official programme describing the event and containing presenter details.
2.1.2 Preparation and delivery of industry relevant internal (employer) organisation training for employees/workers or clients 5 points per course Outline of material presented.
Official programme describing the event and containing presenter details.
2.1.3 Supervision and mentoring for the research thesis of a post graduate student on an industry relevant, accredited programme 10 points per graduate research thesis per year
Maximum of:
10 points per Honours thesis
30 points per Masters thesis
50 points per Doctoral thesis
Official letter from programme provider, verifying SAR’s engagement in this capacity and over what period.
Verification of programme accreditation.
Annual verification that learner/s remain active in the programme.
2.1.4 Supervision and mentoring of a learner/ student in an industry relevant accredited programme below postgraduate level, for example, a learnership/ internship 5 points per learner per year
Maximum of 20 points per year
Official letter from programme provider, verifying SAR’s engagement in this capacity, over what period.
Verification of programme accreditation.
Verification that learner/ s remain active in programme (annual).
2.1.5 Synopsis/ review of industry relevant published material of technical, informational and/ or scientific value to the research industry 10 points per qualifying book or 2 points per qualifying journal article/ chapter of book
2 points per qualifying journal article/ chapter of book and article/ chapter
Articles/ Chapters: Details of publication and 500 word synopsis of what has been learnt.
Books:
Details of publication, including title, author/ s, date of publication, name of publishers and 2000 word book review.
2.2 Publishing 2.2.1 Writing an article that is published in an industry relevant publication, or a chapter in or a complete industry relevant book or a book by publishers serving the industry (incl. journals but NOT newsletters or conference papers) 10 points per initial published article/ chapter/ book
For joint authorship: points divided by number of (industry relevant) authors
In addition:
+ 10 points if published by a scientific journal/ publisher
+ 10 points per published BOOK of technical/ scientific value
Articles/ Chapters: Copy of published material, index (if chapter in a book), and details of publication.
Books:
Copy of publishing details page, including title, author/ s, date of publication, name of publishers.

Download the CPD activity tracking sheet here (above information included).

5.     SUSPENSIONS AND/OR WITHDRAWING ACCREDITATION

Any discrepancies in the information supplied for accreditation purposes that cannot be satisfactorily explained will result in the loss of SAR recognition status. Re-application, in these cases, will only be permitted following a 2 year interval.

Furthermore, SARs who do not maintain their membership in good standing throughout their career, including timely renewal every 2 to 3 years, adhering to all SAR renewal and CPD process deadlines, and/or who fail to pay their annual fees or other charges owed, may lose their SAR recognition status.

If SAR recognition status is withdrawn because of failure to meet a deadline, including a CPD evidence submission deadline, the person is by default downgraded to SAMRA Partner status, and can re-apply for SAR status after 5 years.

If SAR recognition status has lapsed because of non-payment of dues/fees, reinstatement is possible should all outstanding amounts, as well as a reinstatement fee to be decided by the SAMRA Board, be paid within 60 days following suspension.

If SAR recognition status lapses because of failure to meet CPD requirements, reinstatement is possible should CPD requirements be met within 6 months following suspension.

______________________________________________

[1] SAMRA members who were Full members up to the membership restructure in February 2013 may apply if their period of Full membership and SAMRA Partner recognition status adds up to 5 or more years duration

[2] For example, Research Managers, Research Directors, Managing Directors, Chief Executives, Owners of research companies, and equivalent positions of seniority in academia