The UK small business research community and its publication channels: perceptions and ratings

Lew Perren, Aidan Berry, Robert Blackburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research and dissemination of the results has always been an important activity for those in the academic community. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has brought the whole area of research publication and dissemination into sharp relief, and striving for high research rankings seems, for some, to have become an end in itself. Some argue that the RAE has restricted the wider dissemination of research as academics focus on refereed journal articles to the detriment of other forms of output, eg professional articles, consultancy, books and practitioner conferences. The RAE has intensified interest in the purpose and process of publication in most discipline areas and has created considerable controversy regarding the status of different publication channels. The small business research area is no exception. This research provides a profile of the UK small business research community, it explores their perceptions regarding research and establishes the esteem that various publication channels are held. Defining precisely what constitutes the area of small business research is problematic. Indeed, providing a specific boundary would create a false precision, small business research overlaps with areas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, and it also draws upon a range of disciplines. Nevertheless, relative limits were placed on this research by the nature of the people who were asked to express their opinion and the questions they were asked. The attitudes were sought through a survey of active UK researchers (97 per cent of respondents had published in the area, 81 per cent were academics, 7 per cent were policy makers and 4 per cent business practitioners) listed on the Institute of Small Business Affairs/Small Business Research Trust database. The title and nature of these organisations suggests that those listed at least identify with the notion of small business research as an area. In addition, the questionnaire emphasised small business research throughout, and no mention was made of entrepreneurship, innovation or associated areas. Ninety-eight questionnaires were returned, representing a 47 per cent response rate. The community was found to be more stable and mature than expected, but small business researchers held other research areas in greater esteem and most regarded themselves as empiricists rather than theorists. The implications of these results are explored for the next RAE and for the future of small business research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-90
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Dissemination
  • Publishing
  • Rating
  • Research


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