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Where are all my publications?

November 1, 2016

img_3464In my last post I gave a link to a publication that I had recently had in a peer reviewed journal, which was very exciting for me.

If you are interested to read the publications that I have to my name, you can view these on my website.

A short list, isn’t it?

At last count: 11 project reports, 3 journal / magazine articles, 2 e-books, and a handful of press articles.

Not much to show for a 14 year career in research!

But you might also be surprised to learn how many reports I have written in that time.  Well I would be too, I didn’t keep count, but let us say as a conservative estimate that I’ve been banging out one 50-pager per month for 14 years = 168.  But I bet it is more than that. Could be twice as many.

So where are they all?  Why are they not on my list of publications?

The first reason is that when you are working for a research agency (i.e. I worked for TNS and MORI) you are writing as the company and not as an individual.  Your name probably does not feature on the reports that you work on.  So the first six years of my career can pretty much be written off publication-wise.

Other than that, the main reason is that they are not my reports anyway.  I might have written them, but I don’t own them.  When you are a Consultant you almost always enter into a contractual arrangement where you sign away your rights to all project documentation.  In practice, this means that any report I write will only enter the public domain if the client wants it to.  Usually, the client doesn’t want it to for one or more of the following reasons:

  • It contains (commercially) sensitive information;
  • The client paid for it, they want to keep it for themselves;
  • It was time sensitive / no longer relevant;
  • They don’t have any mechanism for disseminating it;
  • Disseminating it isn’t a priority for their time;
  • They forgot.

For private sector clients the list reads from top to bottom in priority order.  For public and third sector clients it is usually one of the bottom three reasons.  I do think it is a shame that third sector organisations don’t share their research a bit more, but they are generally lacking in resources and too busy making a difference to waste their time working out how to publish something on their website.

So basically, most of the research I do remains internal to my clients and does not end up in the public domain.

Which means I don’t talk about it.  It is not mine to talk about.  I’ll list clients by name on my website if a project has been completed, and I’ll provide very brief methodological case studies of these projects on request (i.e. in proposals) but that’s as far as it goes.

Occasionally my client will publish something I have written on their website, or ask me to write a blog post or journal article about it.  Great!  I’ll shout from the rooftops about those ones.

And then, time goes by.  Websites get updated and priorities change, and my reports that were once online are no longer available online.  I just deleted four from my website today because of this.  Huh.

This would all seem really alien to an academic researcher, and possibly to many other readers too, but I don’t mind about it at all.  I’ve got no ego with regards to wanting my name all my work.  It is just what I’m used to and how it has always been.

The only issue I have is that I don’t have a lot to point to when potential clients ask for examples of my work, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you I’m awesome.



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