Research skills for journalists


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Talk to CIT, New Media Journalism. Oct 2011.

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  • ME - Information Specialist  aka Information Manager, Records Manager, Librarian Unilever,Glaxo SmithKline, Sydney City Libraries, Central Bank, R.B of Kensington & Chelsea, COPE Foundation. NOW Monitoring businesses for Unilever Supporting research and best practice in COPE What brought me here today diploma in journalism - fellow students struggle with too much information, too much time spent Going down blind alleys, not finding the right information, finding themselves revisiting and reviewing the same sources without a conclusion relatively easy to avoid - not because I am naturally talented or because I had more time to spend but because when I set out to look for information I had a plan.  It turns out that this background in information management had made me better than average at research and what I am going to try to do today is unravel what it is that I was doing (unconsciously at that stage) that made life so much easier.  In outline it amounts to this  my information seeking behaviour (the way I go about the hunt was different). Not to be confused with information retrieval - the nuts and bolts of picking search terms, advanced search techniques etc. My information seeking behaviour could be characterised as I had a plan - I want to give you a simple way to think about research. I had a pro-forma - a picture or template of what the answer would look like in advance (what type  of information I needed to find) - I want to give you a way to visualise what your looking for I had experience & judgement - I knew likely places to find the good stuff  and I 'd know whether it was good or not when I found it - I want to give you some standards by which you will know useful (good) information from useless (bad). So 2DO TODAY 1. The Research Process 2. Seach tips (information retrieval) - top 10 tips and a bit about Google 3. A tour of some business information hot spots 6. Getting organised - keeping hold of what you've found – zotero, rss, 2DO 1 st You - Name, your background, any particular interest in business journalism? Ever had to research an industry or company? Tell me about your approach to researching something? Find out where you are - what kind of subjects have you researched How much time would you typically spend - couple of hours, half a day, day or more? What stands out for you as most problematic What do you want to get from this session?
  • Systematic – there are targets to hit, points to visit, thorough, look until you find Process – a plan, with steps, not necessarily linear, repeatable (if I’ve missed something?) THE OVERALL PROCESS IMPORTANT FOR KEEPING ON TRACK NEXT SLIDE – QUESTIONING THE QUESTION
  • GET DIRECTIONS Don't set off without directions You've got to know what you're looking for and if you don’t know you need to know that too. 1st research opportunity - question the questioner – clarify Pump them for information about what it is they want.  "Get me some information about Kerry Foods" - Techniques 2DO Map the question – at least 3 empty branches - encourages you to fill in gaps – encourages their participation/refinement Allows you to bounce back at them what you’ve understood Use a mix of Closed questions & open questions The answers to these may well drive where you begin looking (sources for people, places, archives, government, regulatory, directories)… OPEN QUESTIONS –What sort of thing are you looking for? What information would you like on this? What sort of material do you have in mind? What else can you tell me about the project you are working on? We have quite a lot of information on X in different parts of the library. If you could tell me how you would be using this information I would help you find something. What sort of information were you looking for? What did you want the material to do for you? What kind of help would you like? What are you trying to understand? Why are you interested in X? In my work I am monitoring suppliers – when someone asks me to cover a new supplier – what products of theirs are of interest, how are they used, is there regulatory/consumer interest? Just because you don't know if you can find this information don't let that prevent you from asking if that's what's don't have to know right then but you will be damn glad you asked (narrowed it down) when you start the next step. 2 DO A research for a piece on the Irish Food Industry EXERCISE Think of 3 closed (yes/no) questions you could use to narrow the research down Do you want X or Y? Would you rather have people focus or business ? Is this for a feature or the business pages? Do you want to cover wider trends or just this issue? Do you want me to cover x Ask questions about what kind of information (more about this in a minute) and if they don’t specify suggest (background, in-depth, stats, market research, local, international) Ask even if or know where you will find these types of info – saves wasting time finding what’s not wanted Other possible kinds of information - facts and figures, primary, secondary, statistics, trends, people, - relationships with employees, competitors, government, regulators,
  • Having mined and anyalysed the question you need to think about what your answer will look like, the type of place you will find it. Why imagine it? So you’ll know it when you find it. Keeps you on track focus your attention so you won’t be diverted You won't spend hours reading background material from scholarly journals forgetting that what you started out looking for were some key figures/stats. Imagine it in detail – what will the answer look like –SEE LIST …. The great thing about google is that all types of information are represented there the trouble is they all look the same so it's easy to forget they're not and waste time. LIST Local news A chart A trend (statistics) = A picture Written by someone famous Written by an expert Local news From a well known source - The FT, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg...... Old New/recent Think about these criteria even write them down so that you don't get diverted by a load of ol information tat that looks like what you want but turns out to be unusable when it comes to closer inspection. WHO Publishers: Government, Academia, Institutions, Advocacy/Protest & Lobby Groups, Trade & Industry, PR, Advertisers, Entertainment industry.....
  • By the by Sure you will have/will be covering evaluating sources so just a brief insight into how information specialists look at sources. EXAMPLES - Reliability –Huffington post, Christian Science Monitor Cossma – old news Next –some examples
  • News from3 different perspectives Industry source (neutral enough but not going to write anything incendiary either) Malaysian news source The Guardian – most neutral Next – look at some actual sources – Known Staring points
  • BEFORE LOOKING AT KNOWN STARTING POINTS FOR RESEARCH Search tips may be a triumph of hope over experience The Google generation are characterised by that "feelin' lucky" phenomenon - we all just hope we won't have to do the ground work. When does that change?  When doing what you did keeps getting you what you got - a lot of time wasted! Are you there yet? 2 do A game - find me EU reports on the irish food industry ("irish food industry" filetype:pdf ) 85 hits "IRISH FOOD INDUSTRY" -DRINK site:EUROPA.EU ogle for irish food industry in europe - I've got a prize for anyone who can bring it in under 100 hits. While these are specific to Google what you really want to keep in mind is the idea that wherever you're searching (Google, The Examiner Site, The Wall St Journal) you need to be able do these things –find out how. NEXT – A bit about google
  • How much content from News sources is available free on the web 20, 40, 90% Ans : 40% what do you think? 20% 40% 90% Ans: 40% Mary Ellen Bates - Dow Jones – Podcast (Oct 2011) Performance Old banger vs company car. Functionality of fee based services is superior. If you have access use ‘em. Don’t forget Public Libraries (Kompass, Newspaper Archives) Search rankings – just do a search for Search Engine Optimisation – a massive industry Hidden –Deep Web Much information on the net is not indexed by traditional search engines since the data is held in a format (such as databases) that the engine can't index. However, there are a few resources that can point you in the right direction. Publisher’s delaying what’s released to Google index – an instinct Hidden/Deep Web See Starting Points Map NEXT – GO TO MIND MAP
  • Use known starting points: Berore that Where do you start usually? (next slide Google) Any starting points already known? While everything has changed not that much has changed; although the information landscape is populated by many new contributors there are still familiar landmarks to guide us.  We will take a guided tour of established business information brands and look at how to evaluate some of the new ones. More effective to go to relevant  starting points and known sites.
  • NEARLY THERE ZOTERO – for storing one off pieces of information (web pages, references, pdf’s) – CNTRL ALT Z SEE EXAMPLES FOLDER SHOW ADDING A RECORD SHOW EDITING A RECORD SHOW OUTPUTTING A RECORD to bib. Google reader [email_address] Alanaoo Show Adding a feed - Adding a feed – dept of finance – no RSS feed – show p2rss Show changing feed name Show options for sharing – email, blog etc. BLOG – as a place to store your stuff Eg of moving stuff from Google reader to blog (Librarian’s choice) Eg of posting an item from a feed.
  • Did we get there? Tell em what you told em A concept of the research process There is a process – map the question, imagine the sources, start from known starting points. There are skills – advanced search techniques There are tools Using Zotero, RSS Google reader See this at
  • Research skills for journalists

    1. 1. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Me </li></ul><ul><li>You </li></ul><ul><li>The Plan for Today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>slideshare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research Process </li></ul><ul><li>Search tips </li></ul><ul><li>Record & Capture </li></ul>
    2. 2. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Research Process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research is the process of systematically seeking information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Questioning the Question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perfect Sources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using known starting points brands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Record, Record, Record </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Questioning the question </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get Directions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Map the directions down </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Open/closed questioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sunday Independent philosophy – “to answer questions and question answers </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Perfect Sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Imagine the source so </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>you stay on track </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So you know when you’ve arrived </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>So you don’t get diverted by shiney stuff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Detail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Forrmat (book, journal, image) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>By whom- government, person, expert, public, PR,, media brand </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For whom – other experts, public, suppliers, customers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When – latest, old </li></ul></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><ul><li>Evaluating information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcomes Include: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluate reliability , validity, accuracy, authority , timeliness, and point of view or bias </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognizes prejudice , deception, or manipulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognizes the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understands the impact of context on interpreting the information </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Malaysian small farmers come out strongly against Australian palm oil bill </li></ul><ul><li>Malaysian Palm Oil Chief Hits Out At Orang Utan Treatment At Melbourne Zoo Bernama </li></ul><ul><li>The slippery business of palm oil, 6 Nov 2008 </li></ul>
    7. 7. Business Research Skills InfoValues – Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Search Tips </li></ul><ul><li>Narrow results (AND, +) </li></ul><ul><li>Widen your results (OR) </li></ul><ul><li>Take out terms (-) </li></ul><ul><li>Cover singular and plural spellings (wildcards ?, *) </li></ul><ul><li>Deep web contains * terabytes or dublin is * miles from Cork </li></ul><ul><li>Search for phrases (quotation marks ) “kerry Group” </li></ul><ul><li>Search within a domain  or (also works in Yahoo) </li></ul><ul><li>Search within a record (Google Advanced Search- title) </li></ul><ul><li>Search within sites site: irish food industry </li></ul><ul><li>to get definitions define:nutrition (also works inYahoo) </li></ul><ul><li>Use cntrl F to find words within a page </li></ul>
    8. 8. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free vs Fee – How Much is Free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filtering – Eli Pariser, Mary Ellen Bates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search rankings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hidden/Deep Web </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Known Starting Points/brands </li></ul>
    10. 10. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Record & Capture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ZOTERO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http:// /support/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GOOGLE READER </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Business Research Skills Sheila O’Flynn <ul><li>Did we get there </li></ul><ul><li>Research Process </li></ul><ul><li>Search tips </li></ul><ul><li>Record & Capture </li></ul>