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.

  1. It’s carried out by an organisation hoping to sell something
  2. 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
  3. Where data is quoted the source is vague or unstated
  4. The organisation concerned wants you to contact them via a PR company
  5. As much money seems to have gone into the presentation and production of the report as the content
  6. 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
  7. They also have little or no track record of working in the UK
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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: