Editor's note: Debbie Balch is president and CEO of Elevated Insights, a Colorado Springs, Colo., research firm. 

We all know problematic respondents are a third-rail issue in the marketing research industry – quality issues aren’t discussed or addressed publicly with the concern the research field could lose credibility. Knowing there are many professional respondents impacting the quality of data, it is clear that a somewhat small proportion of the population is accounting for a large percentage of the responses.

Many different sources cite the degree to which quantitative data may be problematic and, while they vary individually, most seem to hover around the 15-20 percent mark. Although harder to quantify, we understand problems also exist in qualitative data as well – I have seen it firsthand. Some are even brazen enough to blog about it, confessing their qualitative tricks online.

Technology has lent research increasing levels of agility; sample and panel companies have massive reach and can get research feedback in a relatively short time frame. Simultaneously, corporate researchers are operating in an increasingly competitive and fast-moving environment, pushing their research partners for immediate data to influence actionable business decisions.

But there has to be a balance and we in the industry must hold each other accountable.

I believe the answer to this ongoing fight for data quality requires a collective effort by the industry as a whole to improve. Corporate researchers should seek partners that are committed to quality and researchers should seek data collection and sample partners that are committed to truthful responses.

Online surveys currently dominate the quantitative market research space and for good reason. We, as researchers, can get feedback from thousands of people from all over the world in a matter of hours. But the anonymity of online surveys and th...