What does “research-based” mean?

The sub-title of my blog reads: “Research-based analysis and commentary.” What does that mean?

In much of the media and the internet, it’s acceptable to to make statements simply to be provocative or to launch a one-sided defence of a particular point of view or interest. In this blog, I will do my best to take full account of the arguments and evidence for opposing viewpoints.

This is not the same as being non-partisan. Some of the best research-based writing mounts strong arguments for a particular viewpoint. But the way those arguments are produced is by thinking about possible objections and addressing them seriously. Accordingly, I’m not going out of my way to avoid provocative arguments, and I will certainly defend my point of view, but I intend to rest my case on the best research findings available and to offer frank acknowledgements of uncertainties and contrary evidence.

Being research-based does not necessarily make my blog different from quality journalism, or any good writing, for that matter. However, although, in the age of the internet, there is plenty of writing available, there is always a need for more good writing.

Much of the research I present in these pages is the product of some 35 years of my own academic research. Most of my research is based on primary documents, secondary materials and unstructured interviews, but I have also done random-sample structured surveys and statistical analysis.