Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Take a tip from a professional, experienced researcher and analyst – take some time to build a sound reason and rationale for a piece of work. Talk to people – especially the ones who are looking for intelligence or analysis to help them make a decision. Try and understand the context and needs from other people’s points of view. Remember – if you don’t supply them with intelligence or analysis that they can use, your work (and you) will not be valued.

Your needs: be clear about – The research question – what do you want to find out?
– What’s it for? What use will be made of the answer?
– Who is it for? Is it for a specific group of people?

The ultimate value of research is to help people make better-informed decisions. Sometimes its hard to determine exactly what those needs are if other people are involved. Often they don’t know about research in a particular field to be able to articulate exactly what they want.

How do you become a good analyst or economist?

The best way to learn about how do perform analysis, is to look at real life examples and have a go at doing analysis yourself. Also you need to get someone more experienced to review your work. This is the way I personally learnt how to do this. For this kind of work you need a critical eye, patience and concentration. Personally I think anyone with a sufficient level of education or motivation could do it. The rewarding thing about this is you will get better incrementally, and the economy is so diverse that you are constantly learning. Personally, I am still learning and hope to be in 50 years time.

Another issue is that to successfully triangulate and cross-examine, you can’t do this alone. You need other people to scrutinise information and your initial analysis. A few heads are better than one. Other people may spot something you didn’t. A lot of economists get hung up and precious about their work and do not like criticism. A good analyst welcomes criticism and embraces the pedant. I like nothing better than the most pedantic, nit-picking, irritating proof reading and reviewing of my written work and outputs. I like someone who can at one level, pull apart an analytical point and tell my when I am wrong, and at the other level, identify a mistake in one of my table headings. High quality control yields even higher quality at the end. Some economists don’t like this – I always think that they have something to hide. Its my suspicious nature.

Analysis – how to learn and get better

1. Doing: Have a go – learn by doing
2. Learning together: Learn off someone experienced – read their work, have them review yours
3. Reflection: Be your best critic – analyse your own work – ask if your analysis and conclusions are watertight
4. Validate: Always ask yourself – ‘what is the evidence telling me, what can I confidently say from it? Is there anything I am saying that the evidence doesn’t justify?’
5. Peer review: Always get an experienced person to proof-read, review and validate you final report. Get them to provide constructive feedback.

The professional challenge as an analyst is that your piece of analysis is of high quality, robustness and is valid before you give it to anyone else to proof read or check. You will learn, as you become an analyst that there are few things more insulting than wasting your time checking a piece of work that has not had enough thought, care and attention put into it.


At 2:51 pm, Blogger Ang said...

What an insightful piece of writing. You taught me how to become a better Researcher/Analyst so much! Thanks for the great article.


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