Given the increasingly global focus of practically everything we read, it's important to realize that there are many options for finding global information beyond simply using your favorite search engine. Here are strategies and tactics from 20 expert researchers from around the world that I interviewed for my new book, Super Searchers Cover The World. There were a few recurring themes from my conversations.
* There's no such thing as "global research." You're always dealing with country-specific regulations, cultures, customs and infrastructure. Rather than trying to cover the world in one search, break it down into countries or regions; your approach in one area won't necessarily work in another region.
* Watch for hidden assumptions. One searcher described a project in which she was asked to find out what specific features consumers in Latin America looked for when shopping for washing machines. Well, it turns out that they have enough problems with sporadic electricity and the high cost of new appliances; most people are happy to find a 10-year old machine that works and to have a reliable source of electricity. Who cares whether it's front-loading or top-loading? Sometimes the questions themselves can't be answered because they presuppose a strong economy or robust infrastructure, which may not be the case.
* Use tools, not search engines. This is particularly the case when you're doing research on a region or industry you aren't familiar with. Start with a portal or guide and work out from there.
* Check out embassy attaches, chambers of commerce and in-country trade associations. My favorite source for this kind of information is Stat-USA. The market research reports in Stat-USA are very granular -- you'll find reports on the tourism infrastructure in Finland, the data communications market in Poland and the vehicles market in Turkey -- but the contacts listed at the end of each report are tremendously valuable.
* Remember to check for reliability, particularly of sources you don't normally use. Ask experts within your organization who are located in the region you're researching. Triangulate -- get related information from other sources and compare. The World Bank and the European Union were often mentioned as particularly reliable sources of information.
In addition to these words of wisdom, here are a few collections of links for international researchers.
Super Searchers Cover the World Resources
These are all the resources listed in the appendix of Super Searchers Cover The World, including descriptions of each site and the cost, if any.
International Business Information on the Web
This includes links to all the sources listed in the book of the same name by noted international super searcher Sheri R. Lanza, published by Information Today.
Key International Resources for Business and Economics
This site is maintained by the Goizueta Business Library at Emory University, specifically for the business school's course on global "perspectives."
Super Searchers Cover The World
by Mary Ellen Bates
CyberAge Books, ISBN 0-910965-54-4, $24.95
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.
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