The RFP's I hate the most are the ones which dictate a methodology and a sample size. With no opportunity to challenge or question. Do you know what I do with such briefs? I delete them.
Qualitative research briefs are completely different from observational/ethnographic research briefs. And when we receive them we have to go through them with fine tooth combs. We then reply explaining that many of their objectives can be answered with simple interview questions or through discussion groups. Why do they want to observe? At this point we either lose a prospect or gain a long term client.
Did I ever tell you what a Vodafone client said to me once after we had spent weeks filming young people in Italy?
"Why did we send you there to film something we could have found out by simply asking the question?" This happened 12 years ago. And she was absolutely right. Drop me an email and I will tell you what it was that we filmed.
There are also situations when objectives need to be interpreted. Why does the client want to find answers to these questions? How will respondents interpret these questions? Have a look at some work TNS did in India.