Start & run an internet research business

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Search using the Internet

Written by W. Brock MacDonald, Center for Academic Skills, and June Seel, UTM Library

  • fair use policy

More and more students are turning to the Internet when researching their assignments, and more and more teachers are requiring such research when setting topics. However, searching the web is very different from traditional library searching, and the differences can cause problems. The Net is a wonderful resource, but it must be used with caution and critical thinking.

The printed resources you find in the Library have almost always been thoroughly reviewed by experts before publication. This “peer review” process is the difference between, say, an article in Time magazine and one in a magazine like the University of Toronto Quarterly. Additionally, when books and other materials enter the academic library system, they are carefully and systematically cataloged and cross-referenced using procedures followed by research libraries around the world. This process is the basis of the organization of documents in the Library and enables the various search functions of the Web catalog.

On the Internet, on the other hand, “everything is permitted”. Anyone can put whatever they want on a website, there is no review or selection process, and no agreed-upon standard methods for identifying topics and cross-references. That’s both the glory and the weakness of the Net: it’s either freedom or chaos, depending on your perspective, and that means you have to be very careful when researching online. There are a wealth of solid scholarly resources available on the web, including hundreds of online journals and sites created by universities and academic or scientific organizations. The University of Toronto Library’s electronic resources page is one such scholarly resource. L’ use of material from these sources is not a problem; It’s like going to the library, only online.

Here are some basic rules to remember:

  • Do not rely exclusively on network resources. Sometimes your assignment will simply be to research online, but generally your instructors expect you to use the internet and library resources. Cross-checking information on the Network with information in the Library is a good way to ensure that material on the Network is reliable and authoritative.
  • Limit your search topic before logging in. The internet provides access to so much information that it can easily be overwhelmed. Before you start your search, think about what you are looking for and, if possible, ask very specific questions to focus and narrow your search.
  • Know your thematic directories and search engines. There are several high-quality, peer-reviewed topic directories with links curated by subject matter experts. INFOMINE and Academic Info are good examples. These are great places to start your academic research on the Internet. Google , Bing , Yahooand other search engines differ greatly in how they work, how much of the internet they search, and the type of results you can expect to get from them. Spending time learning what each search engine will do and how best to use them can help you avoid a lot of frustration and wasted time later. Since everyone will find different things for you, it’s a good idea to always use more than one search engine. For specialist search engines and directories, you can also try Many , which includes over 2,500 search engines and directories, or the Search Engine Colossus International Search Engine Directory,which includes search engines from over 230 countries around the world.
  • Keep a detailed log of the sites you visit and the sites you use. Searching the web inevitably means visiting some useful sites and some that are not. It is necessary to follow up so that you can review the most useful ones later and also put the required references in your document. Don’t rely solely on your browser’s History feature, as it keeps web addresses or URLs of every site you visit, good or bad, and if you’re using a University computer, the History file memory will be erased. at the end of your session. It is best to write down or bookmark the sites you have found useful so that you have a permanent record.
  • Check all URLs you put in your job. It’s easy to make mistakes with complicated web addresses, and typos will render your references useless. To be sure, enter them into the location box of your browser and check that they direct you to the correct site.

The following points are guidelines for evaluating specific resources you find on the web. By asking these questions when you visit a website, you can avoid many errors and problems.

  • Authority
    • Who is the author?
    • Is the author’s name given?
    • Are your qualifications specified?
    • Is there a link to information about her and her position?
    • Is there a way to contact her (an address or a “Mailto” link)?
    • Have you heard of it elsewhere (in class, or cited in your course text or library material)?
    • Has the author written elsewhere on this subject?
  • Membership
    • Who is the site sponsor?
    • Is the author affiliated with an accredited institution or organization?
    • Does the information reflect the point of view of the organization or only that of the author? If the sponsoring institution or organization is not clearly identified on the site, check the URL. It can contain the name of a university (U of T Mississauga includes utoronto) or the .edu extension, which is used by many educational institutions. Government sites are identified by the extension .gov. URLs containing .org are more complicated and require investigation: these are sites sponsored by nonprofit organizations, some of which are trusted sources, and some of which are highly biased. Sites with the .com extension should also be used with caution,
  • audience level
    • What audience is the website aimed at? You want information at the academic or research level. Don’t use sites aimed at elementary school students or sites that are too technical for your needs.
  • Badge
    • Is the website up to date?
    • Is the site dated?
    • Is the date of the last update indicated? In general, Internet resources must be up to date; After all, getting the latest information is the main reason to use the internet for research in the first place.
    • Are all links up to date and working? Broken links may mean the site is out of date; they are definitely a sign that it is not well maintained.
  • Reliability/accuracy of content
    • Is the content of the website reliable and accurate?
    • Is the information objective and not an opinion?
    • Can you verify information in printed sources?
    • Is the source of the information clearly stated, whether original research material or secondary material borrowed from elsewhere?
    • How valid is the research that is the source?
    • Does the material as presented have substance and depth?
    • When arguments are given, are they based on solid evidence and good logic?
    • Is the author’s point of view unbiased and objective?
    • Is the author’s language free from emotion and prejudice?
    • Is the site free of spelling or grammatical errors and other signs of sloppiness in the presentation of material?
    • Des sources électroniques et imprimées supplémentaires sont-elles fournies pour compléter ou soutenir le contenu du site Web ?

If you can answer all these questions positively when looking at a particular site, then you can be pretty sure it’s a good one; if it doesn’t measure up one way or another, it’s probably a site to avoid. The key to the whole process is to think critically about what you find on the Net; if you want to use it, you are responsible for ensuring that it is reliable and accurate.

Esta página se utiliza con permiso de la Biblioteca UTM.

  1. Starting a new job
  2. How To Start a Research Company

How To Start a Research Company

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed’s data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Si vous aimez promouvoir la recherche de haute qualité, vous pourriez être intéressé à démarrer une entreprise de recherche. L’objectif principal d’une société de recherche est de découvrir et d’analyser des données à rapporter aux clients. En tant que dirigeant d’une entreprise de recherche, vous pouvez utiliser votre formation et votre expérience pour vous assurer que l’organisation fournit des informations exactes, pertinentes et faciles à comprendre. Dans cet article, nous explorons ce que sont les entreprises de recherche, ce qu’elles font et comment démarrer une entreprise de recherche.

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Get personalized salary insights with Indeed’s Salary Calculator What is a research company?

A research company is an organization that offers consulting services to people seeking in-depth data about particular subjects. Research companies may be sole proprietorships, such as a single information consultant performing freelance research for select clients, or they may be firms with teams of consultants who specialize in different topics.

Information consultants, also called research consultants, are highly trained professionals who typically have a master’s degree or Ph.D. in their area of expertise, along with at least 10 years of experience in a specific field. Consultants who lead research companies are sometimes called information brokers, and they often oversee a team of research assistants who help them reach more clients, perform intricate research and handle administrative tasks.

Clients often hire research consulting companies to:

  • Ensure objectivity in research

  • Secure academic integrity

  • Fill gaps in knowledge

  • Interpret complex or specialized information

  • Compile data in an easy-to-read manner

  • Assess source credibility

What does a research company do?

While a research company’s daily responsibilities vary based on its current project or client, its services may include:

  • Researching new techniques a client can use

  • Creating and executing polls to determine customer satisfaction

  • Doing market research to determine customer characteristics to help a client improve their marketing efforts

  • Studying a client’s sourcing to determine ethics and quality of goods throughout the entire production process

  • Testing competitor products and comparing them to a client’s products

  • Writing and performing surveys about political candidates, public policies or a client’s new product

  • Carrying out brand equity research to gauge public opinions about a client

In addition to research, consultants in research companies are typically responsible for:

  • Formatting results into a straightforward report

  • Marketing services

  • Scheduling and attending meetings with clients

  • Fielding phone calls and emails from clients, expert sources and research assistants

  • Visiting specialized libraries, such as an art institute’s library for design research

  • Completing tax reporting

  • Attending and presenting at conferences

  • Creating and publishing content in-house that’s related to the company’s area of expertise

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How to start a research company

By following these eight steps, you can gain the knowledge, skills and network you need to start a research company:

1. Determine your area of expertise

Research companies typically employ highly educated information consultants who use their extensive knowledge to support their professional research. This background often combines their academic credentials, work experience and personal interests. For example, if a consultant has a master’s degree in finance, 10 years of experience as a corporate financial planner and enjoys reading articles about the stock market in their free time, they might excel in conducting research related to planning investments from a business perspective.

To discover which type of research suits your company best, consider your qualifications and hobbies. Then, hire research consultants with similar educational backgrounds and select clients who are seeking that type of data.

To help you narrow your options, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is your educational background?

  • Which industry are you most experienced with?

  • Are you interested in business-to-business (B2B) research or performing research that can become available to the public?

  • What do you like to read for leisure?

  • What types of clients do you want to work with?

  • Where are the gaps in your knowledge, and who could you hire to fill those gaps?

  • What kinds of sources do you already have access to?

  • What types of research do you want to do?

Related: Types of Research: Definitions and Examples

2. Define your target client

By examining which type of client your company plans to serve, you can ensure information consultants are properly experienced and ready to deliver high-quality data. Research companies often perform services for the following types of clients:

  • External consulting companies

  • Marketing departments seeking B2B market research

  • Advertisers

  • Research teams seeking a particular specialist

  • Airlines interested in objective safety testing

  • Government offices

  • Political candidates

  • Polling centers

  • Commercial businesses seeking data on consumer behavior

  • Financial institutions

3. Market your research service to potential clients

Research companies typically use a diverse set of marketing tactics to attract the right clients for their research services, such as:

  • Maintaining a company website

  • Sustaining a social media presence

  • Optimizing website content for search engines (SEO), such as using industry keywords in company blog posts

  • Employing paid advertising

  • Writing press releases to inform media outlets about publicly available research endeavors

  • Creating content such as videos, articles, graphics, podcasts and academic papers

  • Attending conventions and other networking events

  • Encouraging referrals from existing clients

Related: A Guide To Effective Marketing Techniques

4. Decide on fee policies

There’s no set standard for how research companies charge for the information they find. To prepare for interacting with clients, consider the following common fee policies research companies use:

  • Flat fee: Clients pay upfront for a particular service, then the research company conducts that service.

  • Per client: With this fee style, research companies provide a quote for each client depending on the type of project they’ve requested, the client’s budget and the relationship the research company has with the client.

  • Per service: When clients pay per service, the research company collects and reports data first. Then the client pays after the service is complete.

5. Compile a database of credible sources

Les sources qu’une société de recherche emploie varient en fonction de l’industrie, du client et du projet. Il appartient également à votre société de recherche de déterminer ce qui fait une source crédible. Par exemple, une société de recherche axée sur les informations sur les consommateurs peut utiliser l’engagement des médias sociaux pour connaître l’opinion des clients sur un produit particulier. Cependant, l’utilisation des médias sociaux pourrait ne pas être aussi appropriée pour d’autres recherches, telles que la science, la finance ou la santé. Considérez les types de médias suivants pour soutenir la recherche de l’entreprise :

  • nouvelles de l’industrie

  • Magazines de l’industrie

  • Sites Web du gouvernement

  • Textes savants

  • Livres académiques

  • Encyclopédies

  • sites Web respectés

  • Interviews with experts

6. Establish your authority in a particular subject

Research consultants who represent research firms can build a reputation for expertise by:

  • Writing well-researched academic papers, articles and books

  • Presenting and lecturing at conferences on a specific topic

  • Creation of high-quality explainer videos

  • Participation in academic round tables

  • facilitation of workshops

  • Teaching courses

  • Do residencies in universities

  • Accept visiting lecturer opportunities at renowned institutes, museums and other academic centers

Related: Effective Reputation Management

7. Hone your research skills

To effectively lead a team of research consultants, it can be helpful for information brokers and other research company executives to strengthen their research skills, such as:

  • Attention to detail: To ensure that the data reported by your research company is as accurate as possible, it is essential to pay close attention to detail. You can practice this skill by taking precise notes, summarizing complex documents, and regularly engaging in academically stimulating conversations.

  • Time management: You can help your research team become more efficient by sharing time management techniques and advanced Internet research strategies. It also helps to set simple goals and make it easier to access commonly used sources.

  • Problem Solving – During the research process, a research consultant may encounter a difficult topic, an undecided client, or inconclusive data. Information brokers and other research business leaders can help consultants overcome these obstacles by using open and creative problem-solving skills.

  • Communication: Research companies need to discuss their findings with clients, expert sources and research teams, which means successful business leaders are often able to explain complex data at different levels of understanding. This involves displaying the search in a clear, easy-to-understand visual design.

Read more: Research skills: definition and examples

8. Decide how to present your research results

Research companies often display their results using graphs, charts or other visual aids to ensure that the information is accessible to non-specialists. Although delivery typically varies depending on the data you present and the background of the client, consider using the following methods to present your company’s research:

  • Graphs, charts or tables

  • Videos

  • live shows

  • infographics

  • academic papers

  • Articles

  • white papers

  • slideshows

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