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Happy 10th birthday Ruthless Research

November 2, 2020

Wow February 18th is the last time I blogged. And then I had a few days in London for work and then the world changed. There’s so much I could say and maybe I still will.

But mainly I came here to document the momentous occasion that is…

TEN YEARS of trading as Ruthless Research!!!!

I honestly would not have believed it if you’d told me.

Ten years ago today I said on Facebook:

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Feel free to hire me – I’m all good with the IR35

February 18, 2020

Perhaps you have been lucky enough for IR35 to pass you by, or perhaps it is all up in your face at the moment.  I can’t seem to escape the IR35 chat on LinkedIn / my businessy Facebook groups / my curated news feeds. Ah, it’s like GDPR all over again!

In case you’re not familiar, IR35 is a bunch of rules closing a loophole where some employees act as contractors to pay less tax than payrolled employees.  So if you’re a freelancer / contractor you need to be all over this with a view to providing evidence in support your status as a self-employed professional. If a person is investigated under IR35, it is their working practices that will be examined as well as their contracts.  It is all about how you act rather than what you have down on paper.

As a freelancer I am of course concerned to ensure that I am operating legitimately with respect to IR35.

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(Still) welcoming people with mental health problems into mainstream research

January 28, 2020

One of the first things that I did when I went freelance was to write an article entitled Welcoming people with mental health problems into mainstream research, which was published in the International Journal of Market Research in 2011.

Immediately preceding this I was Head of Research at a mental health charity and this opened my eyes to the fact that mental health problems are ‘invisible’ and widespread, and that people with mental health problems regularly face exclusion.  My attention was also drawn to the fact that many people with mental health problems are also consumers of mainstream products and services, and therefore form a notable proportion of the population of participants involved with mainstream research.

With this in mind I wrote this article to discuss ‘best practice’ ways in which mental health problems should be considered when conducting research projects.

The world has changed a lot since then and perhaps this all sounds obvious to you now.  However, I do think what I have written in this article still stands and I also think that some of the points have a broader use when it comes to planning accessible research projects generally.

So!  Why not check out my article, which you can find reproduced on my website.

I’m also always delighted to have a chat with you about how you can make your research projects as accessible as possible so please do get in touch any time.

Link to my work: Evaluation of the ArtFelt pilot project (Luminate and Starcatchers)

January 13, 2020

Please follow this link to read the final report from the evaluation of the ArtFelt pilot art project.  This project was a collaboration between Luminate and Starcatchers, which involved children at Forbes Nursery visiting older residents at nearby Morlich House care home and collaborating on a range of artistic and creative activities.

Meaningful ways to pick a supplier

January 7, 2020

Recently I’ve seen a few freelance jobs come up that use a particular approach to tender evaluation and this has got me all confused.

The (more formal) clients that I work with have scoring systems for evaluating tenders, and tenders are scored on elements including price, quality, skills etc.

The bit that has me baffled is a way that clients seem to be evaluating the pricing element of late.  Here’s a real example:

The lowest compliant total firm price will be awarded the maximum percentage mark. All other compliant tenders will be awarded the appropriate percentage mark in relation to the tender with the lowest score.

Basically the bidder that quotes the lowest cost for the job gets most points, and then all the other bidders are ranked against this.  So if you put in the lowest bid you get the most points, and if you put in the highest bid, you get the least points.  Then points mean prizes, as the bidder with the most points will get the job.  Hurray!

OK that’s a process, that’s quantifiable, that’s a way of converting hundreds of pages of blah into a decision.

But as a potential supplier I’m so confused as to how to play this game.

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More from the comments – you can trust legitimate opinion polling companies

December 18, 2019

In my last post I wrote about why a sample of 1,000 people was a good size for an opinion poll, and I’d just like to add a bit more.

So as you know I was reading the comments.  And another thing I always notice in ‘the comments’ is that people assume that polls are nonsense if they have been commissioned by a partisan organisation:

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My one-woman crusade: Why 1,000 is enough for a public opinion poll

December 3, 2019

I tell you what the world has changed a lot since I started working in research.  My industry has been pootling along for decades asking people stuff and helping clients to make evidence-based decisions but suddenly we’ve had a couple of close-call referendums and some questionable national leadership and now everyone is interested in public opinion.

Coolio.  Gauging public opinion is what we do.  So we do that.

And when we do…. don’t read the comments.

I read the comments.

I should stop reading the comments.

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How I cost up new jobs

November 12, 2019

Sometimes people ask me how much it costs to hire me to do some research and I don’t really have a set answer for that because every one of my projects is different.

But I can tell you how I work out the cost for each new job:

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Happy 9th birthday Ruthless Research!

November 1, 2019

Nine years ago today* – armed with a voluntary redundancy windfall**  – I took the leap into self-employment.

I would never have guessed that I would still be doing it nine years on.  That’s more than half of my career so far!

I would never have guessed how much I would enjoy it.

Thanks to my husband for encouraging me, and all of my clients for choosing to work with me.  I love you all.


*Well, technically nine years today was on a two-week Red Sea scuba diving trip, but it was the first day I was no longer a salaried employee anywhere.

**Haha windfall, it was £760 so not really enough to facilitate any major life decisions!


Wee aside – cleaning Surveymonkey data

October 24, 2019

I was just having a wee check through the search terms that land on my page, and folks I’m surprised how many of you are landing on my blog because you want to clean your own Surveymonkey data.  Lovely load of geeks that you are, you’re very welcome here.

Is no-one else writing about that?  I can’t believe it!

(I can believe it)

That one was a surprise –  and very niche – success!