I recently spoke at a Transportation Librarians Roundtable virtual event about finding hidden web resources (slides here). As often happens, the most interesting part was the conversation after I finished presenting, and one question really got me thinking.
When preparing for my part in the Search Skills Academy at Internet Librarian International, I was asked to come up with a couple of search tips (in addition to what I’d developed for Internet Librarian, downloadable here). As I thought about it, I realized that my biggest lesson from the last year could be summarized as “search ugly, deliver pretty”. What do I mean by that?
Finding so-called “grey literature” — material from publications not produced by commercial publishers — has always been a challenge for researchers. The most valuable grey literature is often not easily retrieved through a simple query in a search engine; it resides inside a specialized database, buried deep within an association’s web site, or is simply not ranked as relevant by a search engine’s algorithm.
The problem of finding grey literature is not new; research on and discussion about grey lit in the STM field has been going on for years (see, for example, the International Conference on Grey Literature, which has been meeting since 1993). More recently, business researchers are finding that sometimes non-traditional resources have the best — or only — information on a narrow topic or current issue. Following are some of the tricks I use for finding hidden or grey-lit business resources.
The more expertise you have on a topic, the narrower your thinking and the less creativity you may bring to a novel problem. As Shunryu Suzuki noted in the classic, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
Recently, I was listening to an episode of Hidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts. (Rebel With A Cause, July 23, 2018) Host Shankar Vedantam talked with Francesca Gino, author of Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life. She has given much thought to the story of captain Chesley Sullenberger, Read More
While I learn many of my search tips from my colleagues at conferences like Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian, I have found another way to tap into the expertise of search pros. Factiva is particularly good for finding specially-constructed, complex search queries that their internal search experts have designed for difficult or complex concepts. If I am having trouble getting the results I expect when searching a value-added online service, I pop the hood and see how the real search geeks would approach the topic.
Google Image search is focused more on matching meaning than matching images. If you want to search for instances of an image (to watch for usage of your organization’s images or to find mentions of a chart or graph in a report or article, say), you’re better off using a reverse-image search tool like TinEye instead.
It’s the beginning of conference season for us public speakers… along with the daffodils appear boarding passes and PowerPoint slides. One of my favorite conferences is Computers in Libraries, and I will be leading the Searcher Academy pre-conference workshop as well as giving a regular presentation on super searcher tips.
I have more tips than I could fit into a blog post; here are a few of my favorites that I will be sharing at Computers in Libraries:
I am a business researcher and analyst by training, and I’m always on the lookout for new and creative ways to find the more “hidden” information about companies and individuals. Here are a few of my latest favorites.
I’m one of those people who still reads newspapers. Even worse, I still get the print newspaper delivered to my doorstep every day. I could wax eloquent about the tactile pleasure and serendipitous delight of paging through a print newspaper, but I’ll spare you.
Often, I find an article thought-provoking enough that I want to share it and my thoughts to the world. Easy – I pop online, find the digital version of the article, and no one needs to know I saw the article first on a dead tree.