Information Research Bureau
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The findings of any given business research is a result of information drawn from a wide variety of scholarly, governmental, industrial, commercial and other resources. Automated library catalogues and periodical card indexes which were once the king of research, today are no longer the only or even the most useful tools.
The explosion of business information available on the World Wide Web has both increased the access to information sources, but at the same time has added more complexity to the research process. Not everything that is published in the Web is authentic, accurate or even reliable. This article provides several recommended types of web sites with high data reliability and accuracy.
But before we go further into web sites, our discussion is not complete if we do not discuss the value of information to be retrieved itself. All information are subjected the issues of reliability, accuracy, age and biases.
An accurate information is one with a small margin of error, and derived from an adequately sample size. An information may have a small margin of error, say between +/- 1%, but it may be derived from a sample size of 12 cases from a population of 22 million. Then, we can safely conclude that the said information is inaccurate.
A reliable information is one that comes from a trustworthy source. Not only is the reputation of the source plays a very vital role, but more so, if the source has a direct linkage with the subject matter in question. Information derived from a third or a forth party can be said to unreliable.
The age of the information will determine the usability of the information. Consumer behavior pattern in 1989, for example, cannot be utilized for 1999's study. The fads in the 70's or 80's are different.
Information bias is an issue that merits discussion. As we mentioned earlier, business research is derived from a variety of sources. That includes both secondary and primary sources. Our search in the Web gives us a good bulk of secondary data, but our search must not end there. Some of these sites will also provide insights and leads to talk directly to the source of data for further clarifications. Do take the time to talk to them, particularly to clarify certain issues that may be confusing to you. A few may suggest that only primary or only secondary data is required to complete your research. This is not true. An over dependence upon one type of data can create unwanted bias.
Universities and colleges are good sources of reliable information. Academicians tend to be particularly careful on the authenticity of their articles. These academic institutions usually have a wide variety of departments and professors mastering in each subject matter. These sources of information would be good "expert opinions".
Association Web Sites.
An association web site is a good place to start your research. A reasonably organized association usually provides a historical background of the association, industry and/or area of activity. If you visit this site, make sure you read its frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) articles before posing further question to the webmaster. Most sites would also provide membership mailing lists that could be utilized to help you to follow up with direct interviews.
Government Web Sites.
There is an encouraging trend of government departments publishing their own web sites. Although most concentrate more on its structure, services provided, and (the much dreaded) speeches, a few good ones produces relevant statistics, journals, articles, and even their own FAQs. In general, government web sites provide quality information.
Subject-related journals such as Malaysian Current Law Journal are also good sources of reliable information. These type of journals concentrate on its specific area of interest. There are many types of journals also currently available, although not many are currently available in the Web, free.
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