When I handed in my MW research paper last June I was more than happy to forget about it for a while. After months of study and endless hours of analysing data and drawing graphs with Excel, it was fantastic to turn that part of my brain off to relax and enjoy the summer. Even once autumn came around and I got the longed-for phone call saying that I had passed, still my research paper spent time metaphorically gathering dust in the depths of my computer memory. But as a bit more time passed I realised that although my paper had achieved its primary goal of making me an MW, it hadn’t actually done any wider good for the industry.
Research papers aren’t automatically published anywhere – and so all the effort I had put in wasn’t actually benefiting anyone. My paper looked at how independent wine merchants use their websites, analysing their e-commerce and/or marketing capabilities – and gave some insights and suggestions for the merchants to look at when updating their websites. I really wanted to pass these learnings on so they could be of some use – and so I could feel that all those months of research had a tangible benefit.
And so the time had come for me to go back to my paper and condense it down into a readable form for an article to be published in The Wine Merchant magazine. After some months of distance from the research I really enjoyed going back to my paper and picking out the key insights. At the time it was all-consuming and so hard to really appreciate, but now I can see just what I got out of it – not only in some interesting and (hopefully) useful research, but also in the new skills I learnt along the way. Sometimes people can assume the third stage of the MW course is the easy bit – well, you’ve got the exams out of the way haven’t you? – but really it is anything but. It requires a very different way of thinking and studying, not to mention being much more lonely as you steadily work your way further and further into your particular subject.
But I would argue that the research paper also gives a huge amount of satisfaction. At the end you have learnt something about wine that perhaps no one knew before – or at least hadn’t done the research to prove that it is so. Being able to pass this new knowledge on to other people in the industry and hopefully help someone somewhere – that is pretty fantastic. And so I was very pleased when my article was published this month and I was finally able to share my findings with the merchants that I researched. I hope that it is of use to them.
If you would like to read the article, you can find it here – just scroll to pages 26-27.