Market Research

Four Favorite Market Research Glossaries

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro when it comes to market research, there will always be unfamiliar terms—especially as technology continues to evolve. Thankfully, there are many online glossaries to help you when you’re stuck.

In this article, Research Rockstar intern Sarah Stites has evaluated four of our favorite market research glossaries for ease of use and completeness. As a gauge of completeness, we tested for the inclusion of five terms: ethnography, laddering, MaxDiff, orthogonal, and projective.

The Decision Analyst Glossary: Intern’s Winner!

The Decision Analyst glossary, with over 1000 terms, is quite extensive. Completeness was good; for example, it did not define orthogonal, but it did define MaxDiff. The user will also find that it is quite appropriate for students or others newer to market research. As I myself fit both of those categories, I find it the most useful of the four glossaries for these specific reasons:

  • Embedded “learn more” links after some definitions
  • Clickable links to related terms when applicable, e.g. “Access panel, see Consumer Panel
  • Some visual examples of concepts which are difficult to explain verbally

The ESOMAR Glossary

The ESOMAR glossary aims to be a “good jargon buster”; however, MaxDiff, orthogonal and ethnography were missing. The style and language is a good fit for both market research newbies and those with more experience. As an added bonus, the glossary is a downloadable PDF file, accessible offline. However, although it is alphabetically arranged, there are no links to each alphabetical letter section, so the user has to scroll through the roughly 900 term glossary (or use Ctr+F if possible).

The MRA Glossary

The Marketing Research Association (MRA) glossary is one of the more extensive glossaries, with over 1,000 terms. This glossary does a great job of covering both quantitative and qualitative research very deeply; I was surprised at how many items I saw about statistics, but I also saw many related to focus groups. Of our five test words, only MaxDiff and orthogonal were missing. Pros: some definitions have links to organizations or legal acts relevant to the term, making it useful for those who wish for more in-depth context. It also included over 40 terms related to the Census, which may be especially useful for researchers who use Census data. Cons: no search feature, so I had to look for terms by alphabetical order (or use Ctr+F if possible).

The Quirk’s Glossary

With over 1,600 terms, the Quirk’s glossary appears to be the most extensive.  This glossary is the absolute best in terms of ease of use: users have the option to search by term, definition or market research topic—a seemingly helpful bonus if you can’t remember a word, but know some related key words. Wondering how robust the definition option really was, I tested the system, inputting “consumer behavior,” and hoping to get some relevant results. There were zero results. It seems as though a high degree of precision is required for this function. Searching by term works really well, and sends the user immediately to the search term, without sifting or scrolling. Additionally, words related to the search term are also included in search results. As for completeness? As with three of the 4 glossaries, the geekier stats terms (MaxDiff and orthogonal) were missing.

Bottom Line: All four glossaries are great. For me, as an intern, I liked Decision Analysis’s the best. But more experienced researchers prefer the Quirk’s glossary best for scope and ease of use.

Leave a comment and let us know which you like best!


This article was written by Research Rockstar intern Sarah Stites. Sarah is a student at Grove City College, and is a member of the Research Rockstar Scholarship program for college students.


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Sarah Stites

This article was written by Research Rockstar intern Sarah Stites. Sarah is a student at Grove City College, and is a member of the Research Rockstar Scholarship program for college students.

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1 thought on “Four Favorite Market Research Glossaries”

  1. In compiling a glossary, I think it’s a good idea to display the alphabet for easy jumping. This is why I like the Decision Analyst Glossary or the Market Research Glossary. In contrast, Quirk’s requires you to insert the word or phrase in the text box. I think this would make it difficult to scan the phrases if you aren’t prompted to do so.

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