Sue Bell

I am a researcher. I have been called 'the best qualitative researcher in Australia' and 'an original thinker'. I call myself a 'sensemaker' because I help clients make sense of  the problems, issues, segments etc that they have asked me to research. I am also a sense-maker because I believe in the value of the sense-making perspective, described elsewhere on this site. I am a Fellow of The Research Society  and a Board Director, with a long history of promoting innovation and high intellectual and ethical standards in research.

I am conference speaker and webinar presenter. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to discuss how I could speak at your event.

What I love to do

  • I love qualitative research. I can't tell you what the best qualitative research method is because all of them have value and anyway it depends on your objectives.The truth is: I was trained as a quantitative researcher and survey research continues to be a method we use often at Susan Bell Research, especially hybrid methods.
  • To my work, I bring expertise in cultural insight (semiotics), in-depth understanding of language and a commitment to new thinking about the mind. I am currently studying social anthropology  through Oxford University, after studying psychological anthropology through Macquarie University last year.
  • My interests are diverse. They include language, poetry, cognitive and social psychology, semiotics, and rituals.
  • I love my work!  I started Susan Bell Research in 1994, knowing that working in a boutique agency would give me the opportunity to work on projects which suited my skill-set, and with clients and colleagues of my choosing.  I work with each client personally.

I am

  • A recognised authority and highly experienced practitioner in qualitative research.  
  • Trained in Linguistics, so I know how language works.
  • A semiotician and was the first person to use semiotics in market research in Australia.
  • A quantitative researcher trained in all methods. 
  • A researcher with broad industry expertise: financial services, food & drink, government and the arts.
  • A blogger on best practice in qualitative research
  • A frequent speaker at conferences, seminars and webinars.


  • BA (Hons) Linguistics and English
  • Graduate Diploma in Psychology
  • Marketing Diploma
  • QPR accreditation from AMSRS
  • Trained in plain language
  • Trained in semiotics and anthropology

Papers, Conferences and workshops

2020: Sensemaking webinar  for The Research Society. June 2020

2020: Fairness: is compliance enough? Lessons from sensemaking.  A webinar with Paul Muir and Tony Bonney. May 2020

2020: Sensemaking- The Future of Qual. The QRCA Global virtual Conference. May 2020

2018 Sense-making for exploratory qualitative research. AMSRS Conference 2018

2017. Sense-making – a challenge to behavioural insights. NewMR. New but not Tech

2016 Semiotics the Problem Child of Market Research. MR Realities Podcast.

2016 Qualitative research and text analytics. NewMR webinar on AI and Automation.

2016     Qualitative Analysis.  AMSRS Winter School

2015    One on one interviewing. AMSRS Winter School
2014    Qualitative Analysis.  AMSRS Winter School
2013    Women’s magazines as facilitators of Christmas rituals  Qualitative Market Research: an International Journal. The female consumer in the 21st Century. Vol 16. Number 3
2013    10 Answers to contemporary market research questions.  Book published by Esomar (Contributor: qualitative analysis)
2012.   Discourse analysis and social media.  Singapore MRS Conference workshop presenter
2012.   Discourse  analysis in qualitative research (Part 2).  Festival of NewMR webinar
2012    Qualitative research analysis    AMSRS Winter School workshop
2012    Babies, bathwater and behavioural economics– with Suzanne Burdon. Festival of NewMR webinar
2011    How to use semiotics in qualitative research. AMSRS Winter School workshop
2011    How to use discourse analysis in qualitative research (part 1). Festival of NewMR webinar
2010.   How to conduct readability research according to the standards of professional market and social research.  Published in Clarity magazine, the Journal of the international association promoting plain legal language, Issue 63
2010    Sensory semiotics, with Jodie Hill. AMSRS Conference
2007    Improving our writing by understanding how people read personally addressed household mail.  Published in Clarity magazine, the Journal of the international association promoting plain legal language, Issue 57.
2007    The Truth is in there.  With Suzanne Burdon. AMSRS Conference. 
2007    Valuing the Visceral: the increasing importance of the rapid-affective response in assessing consumer behaviour, with Suzanne Burdon, Jane Gregory and Jo Watts.    International Journal of Market Research. Vol. 49 No. 3, 
2004    Valuing the Visceral: the increasing importance of the rapid-affective response in assessing consumer behaviour, with Suzanne Burdon, Jane Gregory and Jo Watts.    AMSRS Conference
1994    Panel member on qualitative research.  AMSRS Conference:
1993    Paper on research trends. The Australian Pharmaceutical Market Research Association. 
1989    Paper on semiotics and advertising.  Marketing and Semiotics Conference held at the University of Indiana
1989    Semiotics in Advertising. Winner of Best Paper: AMSRS Conference
1987    Paper on Language and qualitative research AMSRS Seminar
1987    Semiotics and advertising research  - with Warwick Hoare.    AMSRS Conference

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