Productivity in international research

Date of publication: September 1, 1988

Author: Michael Wilsdon


The main argument is that the methods and the facilities for designing and controlling multi-country research have evolved from the primitive approach of the 1950's to a sophisticated and versatile methodology which is still being developed and refined, but it is questionable whether this advance has been paralleled in productivity. The paper will consider the possible meanings of 'productivity' in the context of international research - from the simplistic (but still used) arithmetical measurements (cost per interview, etc) to more realistic definitions that take account of the quality of a research study in all its aspects. The long term development of methodology will be illustrated by an outline of techniques, with case examples, in four 'snapshots', at roughly ten year intervals: the late fifties, the end of the sixties, the end of the seventies, and today. The paper will then focus on the period from 1981 to the present, which has seen the most radical and far-reaching changes in the market for international research on both the demand and supply sides.

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