When you are searching for information, consider the following question: who cares? Who cares about the topic/problem? Who are the main stakeholders? Who are likely to collect information on the topic? Below is a list of sources: (S: strengths / W: weaknesses)
- S: government agencies (both federal and state) produce lots and lots of free data and most are available online.
- W: might be too broad, might not be "very" up-to-date.
- Examples: Census, EPA, NCHS, NCES, SBA.
- Search Tip: use usa.gov or Google Advanced Search for sites with the .gov domain.
Professional/industry/trade Associations, trade publications, grassroot/nonprofit organizations:
- S: specialized, unique, and current information. Sometimes repackage government data to make them more user-friendly. Library subscribes to many and provide free access to students.
- W: cost $$$ to access if not available from the Library.
- Examples: Library databases (e.g., Mintel, Passport, IBISworld, Statista, Simmons Insights).
- Search Tip: sometimes nuggets of info are free on their website, or have been discussed in the media (magazines, newspapers, websites). Market research firms often put out press releases on new reports and some free numbers may be included.
- S: in-depth research with references that one can follow up on; articles can be borrowed from other libraries for free.
- W: might be too specific, might not be up-to-date.
- Examples: journal articles, research reports, books.
- Search Tip: use Library catalog and databases or Google Scholar.
Others: (blogs, personal websites, company websites, online forums, Wikipedia, etc.)
- S: free, easy search via Google, up-to-date information.
- W: might be just repeating information from the above sources; accuracy and reliability might be questionable.
- Examples: TechCrunch, MacRumors, asymco.
- Search Tip: evaluate the sources. Who are the authors? Did they reveal their sources? Can you verify the info in some way?