Aid for newspapers and other sources of information

For some researchers the material sought will be contained in newspapers, national census reports or other statistical databases. Most universities, for example, have access to a retrieval system for the national census.

National Online Management Information System (NOMIS) is a computerised employment information system developed at Durham University on behalf of the Department of Employment. It has been in national use since 1982 and permits access to official statistics on employment, vacancies and population, together with facilities to compare and analyse data on a wide range of areas from local to national levels. The information is available at a wide range of geographical levels and some data analysis facilities, such as graphs and percentages, are available within the system itself. Among the data that NOMIS can provide are:

• census of population data to ward level

• census of employment total since 1971 - specifically employment by industrial classification for local travel-to-work areas

• annual population projections

• National Health Service migration datasets.

Such data are available for many scales of study, including the following:

• travel-to-work areas

• local authority districts

• parliamentary constituencies

When searching for UK government statistics, researchers should start with the free Government Statistics, a Brief Guide to Sources or the Guide to Official Statistics, which can be bought from The Stationery Office (formerly HMSO).


At first the idea was to concentrate on the market for fitted bathrooms, but as this market in the UK is still in its infancy the market structure is very fragmented, so it is difficult to obtain information about this segment. Because of this problem the research concentrated on the British market for baths and sanitaryware. The objectives of the research were to provide the reader with a general understanding of:

• market structure

• distribution system

• buyer behaviour of private customers.

Using the Aslib directory, a list of eight libraries that could be of help was drawn up. Four of these were in London: London Business School, Overseas Trade Library, London Commercial Library and British Library - the science and business department. Two libraries were in Manchester: Manchester Business School and the Central Library commercial section. One library was in Birmingham -Birmingham Central Library - and the other was the British Library in Boston Spa.

Being based in the north of England, I started in the local area and visited the two libraries in Manchester and the one in Birmingham. The result was quite good in terms of identifying the available material as there were several good publications about available market reports, newspaper articles and magazines. The search words used during this part of the desk research were:

• sanitaryware

• en-suite bathroom

The initial desk research was followed by a three-day stay in London. The material obtained in London comprised market analyses made by professional companies and articles from magazines. On average the reports were one to two years old. All the reports more or less followed the same structure:

1 introduction

2 market size

3 demand composition: the customers

4 distribution: concentrating on the merchants

5 manufacturers

6 prospects and recent developments.

The information in reports was to a large extent a replication of the same facts and figures. This at least suggested that the data were reliable. However, the major problem was that none of the reports looked into the distribution system in depth nor did they describe the consumer buying behaviour in a systematic way.

Source: Spindler1

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