Here are eleven laws of Business Research using secondary sources of information.
1. It can be messy.
Business research is not, and should not be, a strict process. Instead the process moves forward based on discoveries made along the way.
2. In business, the more current the information, the more accurate.
Checking the date of the source should be one of the first criteria used to determine quality. Strive to always find the most current information available.
3. The one source you passed on and did not document, will be the one you ultimately realize you need.
Document everything you do and every potential source, even if there is a slim possibility that it will be used.
4. There is no one neat and tidy, comprehensive source.
Be prepared to search multiple sources.
5. Industry codes are a necessity, but often times are not granular, nor flexible enough for today’s business environment.
6. Zero results = incorrect spelling (unless you are searching Google).
7. You will invest yourself in one of two ways: money or time.
With the continued emergence of open data combined with analytics, access to free, key data is more available now than ever. If you know where to look you can find just about anything in some type of open access format. But this takes time. On the other hand, commercial sources are effectively designed for quick and easy access to key data, thus eliminating the amount of time needed for searching. But they can be expensive.
8. Words have multiple meanings.
Make sure you know all the possible variations associated with the term or concept you are searching.
9. The perfect journal article (or report) that you discover will not be always be readily available in full text.
Retrieving the article either requires that you be a paid subscriber or association member, or it is ridiculously expensive. One option: your organization’s library or the public library can submit an interlibrary loan (ILL) request to other libraries that own the journal to send a copy of the article/document.
10. Research, especially when delving into new areas, always takes more time than expected.
Allow yourself plenty of time; don’t wait until the last minute to start.