Keep a Record of Your Sources
Speaking of sources, don’t forget to write down the publication information
about your researched information. (This is not the same as what we mentioned
above—when and where you accessed the information.) This rule is so important,
we gave it its own heading.Sources
First of all, no one expects you to have come up with all the answers on your
own. In fact, when you make it clear that you’ve done your due diligence
through research, you come across as more credible and your proposals and presentations
gain extra authority. Besides, you need to give credit where credit is
due (avoid plagiarism). Someone worked on that article, Web site, or index and
deserves recognition for that work. As a creative person yourself, you should be
able to buy into that principle.Sources
Second, the writers of those articles, Web sites, or indexes might have
imposed their own interpretations or biases on the findings you’re citing. Or
your client might simply disagree with a claim you just made. It’s very hard to
defend something you haven’t researched or written yourself. Imagine this scenario:
you’re spouting off statistics to your client when your client says, “That
sounds bogus. Where’d you hear that?”
Do you really want to have to respond, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t remember”?
How much better to respond, “I’ll check my files and get back to you.”
And do get back to the client with the source information. Who knows? You
were probably citing the most current information, which would impress your client.
Therefore, for your own records, you should record:
• The title of the book, Web site, or article (and the journal that published
• The name of the publisher or host
• The date and place of publication (if a Web site has no date, at least you
will have the date you accessed it)
6. Make Meaning of Your Data
Now that you have all of your notes and documentation, go back and review
your notes, printouts, and photocopies. Compare the information you have
found with the questions you initially asked. Remember that “information is not
knowledge,” as designer Mirko Ili´c points out. Turn your information into
knowledge by working the data. You can delve deeper by asking yourself:
• Have my original questions been answered?
• What new questions have cropped up in my research?
• What surprising or unexpected information have I found?
• What significant themes and points run through my findings?
• How can I present my findings most effectively?
Now that we’ve talked about the stages of research, let’s discuss the major
secondary sources you’ll want to access. We’re also providing numerous tips to
save you time and frustration.Sources
Take advantage of your public library, and don’t overlook the help you can get
from the reference librarians. You’ll likely find them sitting behind a desk in an
area marked “Reference” that has shelves of resources you can’t retrieve without
their assistance. They’ll also show you how to go through the library’s catalogues,
indexes, and databases to find what you’re looking for.Sources
Libraries also subscribe to specialized collections available online, and the
librarians can show you how to access these collections. Even if your local library
doesn’t have all of the magazines, journals, books, or reports you need, they might
be able to request them through inter-library loans from another collection.
Check also on the possibility of gaining access to the libraries of your local
colleges. Choose a college that has programs in the industry you’re trying to
investigate, and you’ll find a wealth of material hand-picked for the students.
This is an ideal situation for you because you are learning about the industry, too.
If you’re a graduate of the college, you should have no problem getting privileges.
Even if you aren’t a grad, you should be able to gain access for “read-only”
purposes, which means you can review and copy materials in the library, but you
can’t take them out on loan. Sources