Finding the pegs

Generally speaking, for the beginner, the most difficult part of a desk research survey using secondary sources is actually beginning. This section will therefore concentrate on indicating some of the more general starting points for a desk research survey. Once the research survey is under way each source uncovered, or contact made, will generally lead on to the next. Following up these leads will provide the depth of information the researcher may need for any particular area of interest.

This is particularly the case with online searches. Online access has changed this area significantly and access to a vast range of sources is possible. The skill for the desk researcher is knowing where to look and being able to interrogate the data for accuracy, relevance and methodological competence. Data searches online may be frustrating as the most valuable data is often available only on a paid-for basis. It is still possible to use paper-based sources at libraries and government information centres to produce excellent desk research cheaply or free of charge.

The section that follows suggests various leads. It begins by indicating some of the sources available that list information sources and classify them. It goes on to suggest sources for some of the more commonly required types of information: about companies, about industries and about markets. It then comments on and identifies some government statistics. The section concludes with a list of some of the information services available to give help on data collection using secondary sources. The section includes information on international sources.

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