Regular readers will know I’ve criticised dodgy research about the public sector on a number of occasions*. Recent publicity about potential procurement savings published by a company called Opera Solutions, to which I shall probably return [I did], prompts me to share the 10 infallible signs of dodgy research, of which there seems to be an increasing amount.
- It’s carried out by an organisation hoping to sell something
- It says it’s based on a sample of public agencies/government departments/local authorities/NHS bodies/managers but it doesn’t tell you anything about the sample – how many, how they were chosen or their characteristics
- Where data is quoted the source is vague or unstated
- The organisation concerned wants you to contact them via a PR company
- As much money seems to have gone into the presentation and production of the report as the content
- The organisation has little or no track record of working with or for the public sector, or indeed has shown no previous interest in the sector
- They also have little or no track record of working in the UK
- You can find a press release about the research but the only way to get a copy of the research itself is to give your details through a web site
- A parliamentarian sympathetic to the interests of the organisation concerned almost immediately takes up its cause uncritically, quoting the conclusions as if they were proven facts
- If whatever the research promises (savings, improved service, greater efficiency) looks too good to be true it is.
Have you got any tell-tale signs of dodgy research about the public sector you’d like to share? Let us know.
* See for example:
- Public and private sector pay – again
- It never rains…
- Public sector workers unemployable – shock horror
- The curious case of council productivity