As part of the literature review for the RA research dissertation, I contrasted the definition, objectives and approach to RA, mainly using the work of the TMF and Mattison, supported by similar work by other authors. While most additional sources covered certain aspects of these dimensions of RA, the TMF and Mattison’s work were more holistic in terms of the labels I chose to analyse RA from.
When I reviewed the material initially, I found Mattison’s The Revenue Assurance Handbook and The Revenue Assurance Standards very difficult to follow. The conclusion did not follow from the premises. However, these I can deal with in the analysis by comparing favorably those aspects that do add value and highlighting the inconsistencies or lack of cohesion where these are evident when summing up the contribution of a piece of work to this discipline. I included this work since it was one of the few sources, which gave a holistic view of the entire function. It did not try to sell me tools or consulting services. Instead, it tried to explain WHAT the function is about and HOW it should be done. Exactly what I needed for this chapter.
I learned from the last review done by the university that the content of academic contribution is not always as important as the method used to arrive at such insight. The thought or argument journey we take to arrive at the facts is what differentiates facts from fiction or in this case, opinion. The methodology determines the validity and reliability of the contribution. We are all well versed in the art of revenue assurance and have experience that make certain things fact, like it or not. We will take on any academic journal and have it for breakfast because nothing makes up for the roasties we earned burning ourselves.
In an age of self-publication, why then do we still put so much importance on peer-reviewed publications and what exactly do we mean with peer-reviewed? Surely when GRAPA says it ratified material amongst its members, this should constitute peer-reviewed, as it is clearly a number of subject matter experts who reviewed and clarified the material before publishing it?
The difference is in the rigor with which the review was done and the thoroughness of the methodology followed in writing the material as well as analysing the output or result prior to publication. An objective and very critical analysis of content and indeed intent of the writing, by a 3rd party, unemotional to the blood, sweat and tears which created the initial output, culminates in a piece of work that can withstand any scrutiny. Such review will immediately eliminate an error of logic; an error of conclusion not following the premises. Peer-reviewed material also provides the opportunity to question the content and argue these until the facts hold up. This is difficult to attain when publishing a book or a non peer-reviewed article. However insightful such material may be, it does not provide a basis from which to build theory. It does not give one a bird’s eye view on the different points of view, contrasted against and for an argument or the evaluation of support for and against the initial stances to such material.
To sum up the research progress, I always wondered why it took so long to do it and often wish that I could give it more focus than I currently have time for. The last 6 months saw substantial review being done but sadly, it did not provide the academic base I needed, so back to the scientific databases.