I've been working on a textbook for communicators - a process that has sent me back to the library to ensure that a fraction of what I say can be proven somehow. And I must admit it's been a struggle.
The problem is highlighted in something written by Mary Welch of the University of Central Lancashire in a paper she published in 2007. She talks about the limited volume of research done into the field. You can see she has a point by looking at her bibliography she lists 82 sources - of which only 38 date from 2000 or later.
When you search on Google Scholar for "Internal Communications" you only get 8,900 articles since 2000 - a fair proportion of which are either about psychiatry or IT systems. "Employee Communications" - the favoured term in the US - just throws up 1,400 results.
I'm a bit thrown by this as is anyone who gets hit by a million emails a day from Ragan or Melcrum. You'd think that there are regiments of people out there analysing our craft and publishing their thoughts. OK, Google Scholar might not be a scientific tool for doing this job, but surely it does point at something.
What is interesting is that when you search against some of the terms that have been present in recent debates about our profression the dearth becomes more apparent.
The problem seems to be that whilst lots of us are rushing around spouting our incredibly insightful thoughts on the subject (Mary Welch even gives me a name check!), few of us are doing it in a way that allows our assumptions and claims to be tested or challenged.
Consultants have good reason to be cagey about revealing their commercially valuable intellectual property but we should perhaps be a bit more willing to challenge some of the wilder assertions made by people like me.
This is turning into a bit of a preoccupation for me!
Which is why I hold Angela Sinickas in such high regard - she's made a career out of asking awkward questions about where people get their facts from; a lesson that many practitioners could learn from. By being more sceptical about the half-baked rumours presented as truth by colleagues and being more obsessive about quality data we can all make our lives a bit easier - and move our craft away from some of the snake oil salesmanship that passes for professional know-how in parts of our business.