Tag Archives: consultancy

happy new 2016

A slightly early happy new year post!

It has certainly been a bit of a roller-coaster year for me – finishing in Australia, spending 5 months in Sweden, before returning to my home town to set up my own company. Things are settling down nicely now (thankfully).

It would not be appropriate for me to air dirty linen in public about some of my experiences in academia. However, suffice to say, in private conversations with a lot of my former colleagues I heard similar complaints and frustrations with the way the profession is going. Of course, not every institution suffers from the same problems; I’m sure there are some places that have very few, and the universities I worked at all had excellent qualities, each one it its own way. Indeed perhaps the problems stem more with the profession more generally, and the funding environment, which forces the universities simply to react in certain ways.

My hope for 2016, to help my former colleagues, is that professional organisations are more supportive of researchers, that credit is given where it is due, and that funding agencies no longer favour certain groups simply due to their wider institutional reputation, rather than technical expertise. One gripe I will mention is the very marked deterioration in citation that I saw in my field: over the last 5-10 years I increasingly saw practices that would certainly fail PhDs, and maybe even undergraduate theses. I saw papers that seemed like they were rushed to a shocking degree (with no proper literature review), or alternatively were deliberately referencing certain other papers to game the funding systems (which, in a number of countries, increasingly rely on citations).

As a final thought I will return to the issue of how groups within academia are being pushed to work, via funding and incentive structures: they must act like consultancies, with key performance indicators and applied (as opposed to theoretical/blue skies) outcomes. My response to that was to become a consultancy myself: after all, why would potential clients pay for layers of administration and a quasi-consultant when they can get the real deal for a much cheaper price?

Of course that can be taken as plug for my services, but hey we all need to make a living 🙂

And on that note, happy new year!

a plea for understanding

I have had a number of requests for what is essentially free help on projects since I left academia.

Some I don’t mind – they are projects I was close to completion on when in academia and the remaining work is small. Others are methodologically interesting.

However, please don’t embarrass us both by asking for any non-trivial stuff for free. I am a consultant now. I need income from the work and the support I provide.

I don’t really like to talk about my family circumstances but truth be told they aren’t good. Whilst family support (and that from friends here in Nottingham) is good for ensuring no more severe deteriorations in my mental health, moving here was for a second reason. My Dad is 65 and can’t afford to retire from the family business – when I am not doing consultancy I intend to help streamline procedures in his business so he can employ a manager and retire, to live off the (currently non-existent) profits. In the meantime I will be providing practical, and perhaps financial support.

We don’t come from a well-off family. I was the first member of my family to go to university.

I know times are tough for everyone, but I know for a fact, having seen it from the other side, that there are serious amounts of cash sloshing around for big preference elicitation studies. Some of these use established methods and there is no reason on earth you should be paying me to provide input. Other are not. And if you want to avoid some horrific mistakes that essentially wasted millions of Euros of money (that I have noted in published articles with giants of the field) then I’m your man. But please, to use the Australian expression, gimme a fair go will ya?


I am not dead

Someone was worried I have been so quiet (awww).

Don’t worry I’m not dead or anything. Just jumping through various hoops to extricate myself from Swedish bureaucracy and re-establish myself here in the UK. (Which can be surprisingly frustrating even for a British citizen.)

I am hoping some degree of normal service will be returned to next week. For your information, in the short-term at least I will be providing some advice on DCEs etc to the best of my ability and providing some part-time support to my father in the family business. He is 65 and is getting too old for a lot of the physical stuff, not to mention the additional admin he has had to shoulder with other family members being ill recently. So I will help out – and so also learn something about accounting. That should probably read “relearn” since I did a professional exam in it when I was an actuary but (1) That was in 1995 and (2) I hated actuarial work so probably didn’t pay much attention, much less retain any information.