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How many research projects have I done?

May 7, 2019

People ask about my research experience.  That’s part of the job I guess.  If I want to do research work for people I need to demonstrate that I’ve done research work for other people before, and it is natural that they ask questions to try and quantify or qualify my level of experience.

They ask questions like “how many research projects have you done?”

Well you know what, that’s not such an easy question to answer as it sounds!

In my first jobs I didn’t keep a record.  Maybe I should have but I didn’t.

In my own business of course I have screeds of records, so I guess I could say that I have done 91 projects, because I have opened 91 job numbers for Ruthless Research.

Great, but using that definition is not as clear cut as it seems.

Sometimes I’ve wanted to separate similar work out into separate projects (even though it is really the same thing) so I’ve given it separate job numbers:

  • Sometimes a client has got more funding and added extras on to a closed project
  • Sometimes a client has wanted to give me a new contract for some reason
  • Sometimes a client has asked me to do follow up work that isn’t strictly research (i.e. blogging, social media, communications)

Sometimes I’ve wanted to squish totally varied work together into the same project so given it the same job number:

  • I’ve had some clients who have me on a ‘retainer’ contract to undertake X amount of days on undecided activities
  • I’ve had some clients who employ me periodically for support services such as attending meetings or reviewing documents, and I them bill ad hoc

So that’s not straightforward.  And furthermore, what constitutes a ‘project’ anyway?

Back in the day I spent a full year working pretty much exclusively on one massive and expensive tracking survey for a bank.  So I took one year to do one project.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s the projects I only spent a few hours on.  The projects that I dipped into to help out a colleague that was working late or on a tight deadline or off sick, or to lend an expert eye on an important report or a tricky issue.  There’s the times I was new to an organisation and the times when I was working my notice, when I wasn’t in a project end-to-end.  And there’s the projects that I had ultimate responsibility for because I was Head of Department, but probably only spent an hour on because they were managed by a senior colleague.

And what about the omnibus survey that I managed for a couple of years.  Is that one huge project, or does it re-set each month, or should I count the number sub-questionnaires that I wrote (maybe 6 – 8 each month) or the number of clients (some one-off, some repeat business, some through an agency)?

So how many projects have I worked on?  I have no idea.

It’s loads though.

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