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Who might publish the information you need?

Now that you know what you need to find, you need to think about who the most likely publishers might be. Going directly to a publisher for your facts can be much more efficient than doing broad searches in a database and might allow you to skip the next research step for some of your sub-questions.

The following image outlines some of the key categories of publishers. Note that the News category is in the centre and is connected to all other categories. In many (though not all) cases, you can spot summaries of research done by publishers (governments, associations, etc.) in news sources. Just remember to fully evaluate all such summaries before you use them: Do you know enough about the authority, methodology, currency, etc. to apply the facts/quotes with confidence to your specific problem? If not, try to track down the original report.


A few examples of each type...

(Note that these aren't necessarily relevant to your specific topics. Check the "Topic-Specific Help" area for more focused tips.)

Government bodies
Private research firms
  • Although many private research firms charge more than most academic libraries can afford for their reports, you can sometimes get some of their survey results via news stories in the business/practitioner news (see News below) or via press releases at the firm's site.
  • In addition, some private researchers (such as Hewitt Associates) sometimes provide most or all of their research results for free (or for just the cost of a free registration) online, so it never hurts to check the site of a firm that you saw mentioned in the news.
  • Finally, there are a few private research firms whose reports/research is available through databases that the SFU Library subscribes to. See the public opinion polling sources listed on the main page of this guide for some examples.
Academic researchers
  • Are there companies who make their money consulting or creating software to solve the problem you are researching? Check out their sites to see if they have any data or reports that you could use. (But be sure to evaluate the information you find for bias, then, if you think that a biased source might be incomplete or inaccurate, be sure to look for independent verification in other sources.)
  • Are you trying to find personnel policies or "real world" cost data from companies? Remember that few companies will release such information, so these can be tough things to find. Try looking for information at the sites of public institutions like universities (e.g., SFU and hospitals). Such organisations are more likely to make their internal policies public. Also try scanning practitioner magazines (e.g., Canadian HR Reporter) in case a company's HR Department has been bragging about something they did.
News Sources