Stats, Data and Damn Lies – When Vanity Metrics Attack

I was writing something recently – actually, I’m actually writing something now, and this thought came to me, and rather than continuing to scribble it on the piece of paper I keep handy for just this sort of thing to stop me from getting distracted, I’m going to run with it. Hope it’s worth this rather shapeless intro.

I was making mention in the original document of the high percentage of Australian innovation workers in higher education and government, as opposed to business: hardly new statistics and, as always, I felt a little uneasy about them because as bad as they are, I always expect them to be worse.  For those who haven’t heard me on this particular soapbox, the official stats show 58.7% of Australian researchers are employed in higher education, with a further 8.9% in government. In fact, of the 34 countries surveyed, Australia was in the bottom 5 for its number of researchers employed in business*.  Continue reading