Reporting Your Success

It is great to measure yourself. But the next step towards improvement is to report. I don’t think it matters who or where you report to. It could be a friend, colleague, partner, family member, staff member or the public. But it is important to report. It creates an accountability framework. It also ensures that your goals and targets are still relevant to you and what you want for yourself.


Hey there bakers, writers, and rock stars! Last week we talked about measuring success, and this week the focus is reporting on success.

One of the reasons why I think reporting on success is important rather than just measuring, it is that it helps create some accountability. If you want to report publicly that can create some public accountability but at the very least, you should be trying to collect some data that measure your progress, your success as a researcher, and then you can report on that to yourself or you can discuss it with a teammate. Or you can discuss it with your peers. Or you can discuss it with another student. Or your parents. Or other family members as a way of keeping you on track towards the targets that you set for yourself and the goals that you want to achieve.

Some of the things that you might choose to measure, you can do things like h-index, and you can get Google Scholar to do that for you. You can set that up automatically. You might choose Altmetric to measure stuff related to citations and the sharing of your journal articles if you’ve published. If you’ve not published, then you might talk about things like words written per day or week or the number of hours you’ve spent writing or reading. Or you might just track the number of consecutive days that you have written. I recommend to all students, and academics that I work with that you spend 15 minutes per day for at least 5 for 5 days a week writing. I also recommend that you take 2 days off a week. So, you might decide that it’s really important to you to have downtime. So, one of your metrics might be that you’ve taken 2 days away from your research work every week. Or you might choose that you really want to work hard this week, this month or this quarter. And so, you’re saying you’ll only do one day a week of downtime or no down time. I don’t think that’s healthy, but they might be the choices that you make.

In terms of reporting, it like I said at the very least, do it annually as part of your candidature review or if you’re a staff member part of your annual performance review. But I would encourage you to do it more frequently than that. So, if you’re taking classes, you might decide to do it on a semester basis or a trimester basis depending on how you teach. That might make it really easy as a trigger, “What are my teaching goals for the year?” You might do it more frequently. I report, weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and I have yearly goals as well as a 5-year plan. All of that might sound like a lot, and for some people it might be but if all of those plans are no bigger than one page each in general. So, in total if I’ve got weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and 5 years, there’s 5 pages worth of plans that cover my work life, and they also cover my personal life as well. And then so weekly, I have a meeting with my assistant James, we report on targets weekly. Then we have monthly targets, that’s generally an aggregation of the weekly ones plus some additional ones. Then for quarterly, again it’s an aggregation of the monthly, and the weekly, and then there are some quarterly targets that relate to my year goals, and then my year goals relate generally to my five-year plan. If things get out of step, then I readjust them, then I look at well are these the right measures for the kinds of success that I want to have. Do these measures still look at the kinds of things that I want to that are important to me, and then I make adjustments. To me, plans are just a framework to help you achieve the kinds of things that you want to achieve in your life. They’re not designed to hold you rigidly in one spot, but they are really useful to ensure that you’re heading down the right path or the right road for you at that time or place in your life.

So, there you have it. Some different ideas on reporting. On the other thing that I should say in terms of reporting on your success is to have measures, also have reports on things that are both input, outcome, and output measures. So don’t just measure the number of peer-reviewed publications you have. Don’t just measure citations. Do things like measuring writing because that’s an input measure to writing both grants and writing journal articles. Don’t just measure journal articles published. Measure data collected or data analyzed or experiments performed because those things are ultimately the building blocks of success for a researcher. If you start measuring all the output measures you might find that you get really disheartened quickly because in many cases a publication is largely out of your control. Particularly, if it’s a co-authored paper, grants are out of your control. Someone else assesses them but writing the grant is within your control. Writing a paper is within your control. Conducting experiments generally is within your control.

So have a think about both of the 3 different kinds of measures: input, output, and outcome measures. Good luck with your reporting. If you’ve got any questions about measuring and reporting your success, hit me up on social media or wherever you see this or hear this, and I will endeavor to answer questions.