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How to analyse your media mentions in-house

August 15, 2017

Way back when (OK, 2002) in my first job, the research agency I worked for specialised in communications research and we had a bespoke solution for analysing media mentions.  We used to get boxes and boxes of clippings containing mentions of our clients, then our analysts would read and code them up.  Following data entry, our system spat out a really useful report about the content and tone of the coverage as a whole.  We could then tell our clients if the media was reporting what they wanted them to report, and whether they were doing it in a positive way.  Very important for assessing the effectiveness of press releases, and brand reputation.

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Holistic questionnaire design

July 11, 2017

I’ve whinged on before that every man and his dog thinks they can write a good questionnaire, and you’ll not be surprised to hear that in my opinion that’s not true.  I’ve been reflecting on this a bit, and was wondering what would happen if you stuck me and a non-professional researcher in adjoining rooms and asked us both to come up with a questionnaire on the same topic.  How would our final products differ?

I think if you asked me to write a survey about cat ownership, it would come out quite differently than a non-professional researcher’s survey about cat ownership.

To be fair I think most people do know a bit about questionnaire design and are able to have a go, but it is my view that the quality of the output would vary depending on the level of understanding and experience of quantitative research theory.

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Complaint about “Dear Sirs”

June 21, 2017

Dear [Head of Equalities and Diversity],

I am writing to complain about the wording of one of [National Public Body]’s recent procurement documents which I accessed through Public Contracts Scotland: An invitation to tender for the evaluation of [Project].

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Patterns in late payment of invoices

June 13, 2017


moneyBack in 2013 I wrote a blog post about the challenges of cashflow in a small business, noting that “my cashflow is difficult to predict due to influences outside my control”.  I almost always invoice following agreed outputs and request standard 30 day terms of payment, but “when an invoice is paid is entirely at the whim of the client.”

Having now submitted seven tax returns I thought I might revisit this and see what the patterns are in payment of invoices over time.

During that period I have submitted 152 invoices, and I’m very pleased to say all of these have been paid in full.  Phew. Read more…

Inspiration porn and the researcher

May 19, 2017

As a researcher working with charities I routinely evaluate projects that tackle inequalities and I come into contact with the people who have benefitted from the work.  Name me a marginalised group and I’ve probably worked with them.  NEET, LGBT, homeless, disabled, single parents or long-term unemployed.  Young people, older people.  People with lived experience of mental health problems or long-term physical health conditions.  Obviously not everyone that could fall into one of these groups is disadvantaged, but my research participants usually are because they are the ones that charities are targeting with their inequalities projects.

When it comes to research participants if I’m honest I have my favourites, the ones that I remember.

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Jobs that I could bid for, but I don’t

November 23, 2016

2008-10-27I recently wrote a blog post stating that one of the hardest learning points of self employment has been when to do NOTHING.  A few people in real life have chatted with me further about this, so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about how it works for me.

Basically I am looking to undertake primary research projects for public or third sector organisations, I would be absolutely delighted to take on virtually any projects that meet this description, and I am well qualified to provide a high quality service for any project with this remit.  But!  This does not mean that I will get picked to do so.  There’s lots of consultants out there, and I can be one of twenty submitting a tender for a single job.  At the start of my self-employed career I bid for anything and everything, but over time I have worked out what sort of projects I never win and I have stopped bothering tendering for them.  I identify several opportunities every week that I could potentially apply for, and it can take a working day to write a proposal, so not bothering to bid for work that I probably won’t win saves me a lot of time.

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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! Read more…