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26. Expert Interviewers

26. Expert Interviewers

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Published by SRED Unlimited
Bruce Madole, CMC, asks whether expert interviewers would make a great part of a SR&ED team.
Bruce Madole, CMC, asks whether expert interviewers would make a great part of a SR&ED team.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: SRED Unlimited on Jan 24, 2011
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01/25/2011

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Copyright 2010 Bruce Madole, CMCExpert Interviewers?
Does the SR&ED world have room for the expert interviewer?
Based in part on my initial readings on the subject of cognitive interviewing, Ihave concluded that there is something to be gained by the application of improvedinterviewing techniques to SR&ED practice. This leads me to consider a second question:how essential is it that the SR&ED practitioner be a scientist, expert developer, or anengineer?A quick scan of the recruitment advertising for the world of SR&ED Practitioner Firms identifies three distinct types of posting. Apart from SR&ED experience, oftenconsidered a “nice-to-have”, the Practitioner Firms tend to be seeking engineers andscientists (all kinds), tax accountants, and, less frequently, technical writers. In-houseSR&ED teams follow a similar pattern.Given that SR&ED practice divides down the middle between the “science” and“costing” sides of the work, the allocation of these skill sets is easily done: scientists dothe science bit, and the accountants ensure that the costing and taxation sides align.Technical writers seem to be more frequently employed under the auspices of smaller  practitioner firms, and often assigned the role of “wordsmithing” a project description,with or without the input of an advisory “science expert” who would have pronounced onthe eligibility of the work. (Occasionally, a technical writer will be asked to write up the project in complete ignorance of the scope or nature of the costs actually being claimed – almost a guarantee of a sub-standard project description.) In general, the technical writer types are a kind of “poor relation” or second-class citizen in the world of SR&ED practice, unless they happen to possess some of the “scientist” qualifications discussed.
This document is the property of Bruce Madole, CMC, and is used by permission. All rights are reserved. The opinions expressed herein are personal, created for entertainmentand information purposes, and are not intended to be relied on in place of professional counsel or advice. No part of this document may be re-used, transmitted or re-transmittedwithout the express prior written consent of the author, who can be contacted at: brucemadole@sympatico.ca 
 
Copyright 2010 Bruce Madole, CMCExpert Interviewers?However, before we take that thought any further, we should consider the roles of those whose scientific expertise is commonly recruited. Most Practitioner Firms (and theCRA itself) argue strongly that it takes a
SR&ED Scientist 
(using the phrase genericallyto mean a Technical SME of any background) to assess the scientific eligibility of claims.Usually, the Practitioners and the CRA will put forward the notion that SR&EDScientists are assigned to help prepare or review claims based on a technically relevantskill-set and experience.In practice, it’s not true.The demands of consulting practice (and apparently, of claim review) frequentlyresult in the use of technical interviewers or claim reviewers who have, ultimately, anarea of specific technical competence and at the minimum, a strong awareness of “whatSR&ED looks like” based on their own technical backgrounds and their growingexperience (and exposure to specific industry groups) as SR&ED practitioners. So therequirement for specifically applicable skill-sets and qualifications rapidly morphs into a broader awareness of the SR&ED domain, in which experience and SR&ED knowledgesupersede specific competencies. SR&ED “Scientists” are frequently cross-assigned toareas where their experience and detailed SR&ED knowledge are expected to carry themthrough.The experienced practitioner, working away from his or her own preferred subjectdomain, will recognize the signs of SR&ED, and will ask the necessary questions fromthe SME they are interviewing, such as: “how does this problem go beyond the boundaries of standard practice?” and “Why was this an advancement?”. They will, in
This document is the property of Bruce Madole, CMC, and is used by permission. All rights are reserved. The opinions expressed herein are personal, created for entertainmentand information purposes, and are not intended to be relied on in place of professional counsel or advice. No part of this document may be re-used, transmitted or re-transmittedwithout the express prior written consent of the author, who can be contacted at: brucemadole@sympatico.ca 

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