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Online Database Research

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Many researchers subscribe to a number of online database services to execute comprehensive, targeted, cost-effective research.

Some services charge to search, while offering downloads for free. Others offer free searching, while charging for downloads.

Still others charge for both. Faster searching and the availability of a broad range of resources can outweigh costs for these services.

Another advantage of online database services is their sophisticated search options, which can pinpoint hard-to-find information. For more discussion of online databases and options for access, see Chapter One.

Deciding which online database service to use depends on the topic, the budget, and the schedule.

For this project, the researcher accessed three online database services – Profound, Dialog, and Factiva, as described below.

Profound
The researcher used Profound, a Dialog product, because it offers ResearchLine, one of the largest online collections of market research.

Rather than go to the various market research Web sites and search each separately using their barebones search pages, many researchers prefer the more professional search capabilities of this product.

And pricing is reasonable. Not only does the researcher’s subscription allow for free searching, but market reports can be purchased by the section, saving money.

Experiences with this product have resulted in some useful, inexpensive resources for industry research.

Although Profound offers access to many of the Dialog databases with an easy-to-use format, Elaine prefers to use Profound mainly to access market research reports.

For other information such as company information and news, she usually goes elsewhere.

Profound may have free searching, but time can be eaten up by not having full content or command searching capabilities. Also, in her experience, the Profound Web site seems to run slowly.

To get ResearchLine from the Profound home page, click WorldSearch. From this search page, the ResearchLine database has been set as the default database.

Profound allows searchers to indicate how many results to display on a page. Always select the highest amount, so you will have fewer pages to click through.

Any other terms or fields might be too limiting for such a narrow industry. After reviewing the Search Tips page, she used the following search string: country club*, private club* – using the asterisk (*) to search for “club” as well as “clubs.” (The comma signifies “or”.)

This caused an error message, however, and it turned out that the asterisk does not work within quotation marks.

This retrieved one report, US Golf and Country Clubs 2001, from Snapshots International, USA.

US Golf and Country Clubs 2001 contained sections on market value, market volume, and segmentation value, as well as market forecasts and further sources.

The page for further sources came with a relatively high price tag, and Elaine wondered what this could possibly contain.

Factiva
An online database service covering news and business topics, Factiva also contains company reports.

The Factiva.com product, accessing nearly eight thousand newspapers, magazines, newswires, and media programs, offers a comprehensive tool for looking at current trends.

With free searching, researchers can explore different approaches to the research and perhaps identify new keywords.

Besides, downloaded documents from Factiva are reasonably priced at $2.95 each, and the Web interface generally seems fast and reliable.

Our researcher had already set her preferences for date, sources, languages, and where the terms were to be searched.

At the search screen, she entered the phrase country club industry or private club industry or club management. In Factiva, quotation marks are not necessary for phrase searching.

Factiva separates results into four sections: Publications, Pictures, Web Sites, and Reports.

With Factiva, you must purchase an article to get its indexing terms, which makes backward searching difficult.

Dialog
Some research projects can be completed by looking at a small, focused set of resources.

Nevertheless, when your search is broad and multifaceted, a comprehensive resource is invaluable.

Researchers use the Classic Dialog product because it combines extensive content with powerful command searching and time-saving tools.

With the Classic product, you can select from hundreds of databases (called “Files” in Dialog).

Besides, Classic Dialog allows you to create and combine search terms, refine searches, and retrieve documents faster because you type the commands instead of clicking options and filling in boxes, as you do with many Web-based products.

Indexing is powerful, and Dialog allows you to view indexing terms without purchasing the entire document.

Besides, many researchers prefer Dialog’s DialogLink software to Web-based products, because it is fast and reliable.

It takes time to learn command search techniques and file management in Dialog, but this product makes it possible to execute cost-effective yet comprehensive research, providing the information that market and industry researchers need.

Learning dialog
To get the most out of Dialog, it is essential to learn not only command language but the specifics of hundreds of files.

The more in-depth knowledge you have, the greater your chances of finding and retrieving the best information possible in the shortest amount of time, without costly errors.

Dialog offers a selection of search aids, training opportunities, publications, and customer support options, and it is in the searcher’s best interest to take full advantage of them.

• Go to http://suppor.dialog.com/searchaids/dialog to find the search aids. Here you will find access to the Dialog Bluesheets, which include details about content, pricing, formats, special features, and more.

Bluesheets are the key to learning about each of the Dialog files. Dialog has posted the electronic versions of the user guides, along with information about interfaces, alerts, and other options.

Database-specific search aids contain descriptors, codes, newspaper lists, and other information about the individual files.

• Go to the training Web page (http://training.dialog.com) for links to online courses, tutorials, workbooks, free practice, and other training opportunities.

• Dialog publications such as Chronolog and OpenDialog offer search tips and keep searchers up to date on Dialog products and services. You can find these publications at http://support.dialog.com/ publications.

• Finally, use Dialog’s Online Support Center (http://support.dialog.com/searchaids/dialog), where support options include e-mail forms, telephone help, and more.

Review Online Database Research
Our researcher had used three online database services for finding articles and market research: Profound, Factiva, and Dialog.

Profound had produced nothing, but the Factiva and Dialog searches were productive. Factiva seemed to work best for more general searches and Dialog for more focused or targeted searches.

The searches turned up a lot about trends in membership development and facility design. Just a few articles mentioned dress and smoking policies, and nothing was found on setting/implementing policy.

Elaine then looked at the search terms she had used for her online database research (see Appendix 1 at the end of this chapter).

Because there were so many terms, and expenses were close to the limits outlined in the letter of agreement. Elaine decided to stop searching the online database services.

First, she needed to retrieve the Wall Street Journal article that she had noted earlier. Again, she consulted Fulltext Sources Online and found that this publication could be accessed through Factiva.

After logging on, she found the source code for the publication, entered the date of the article into both date fields, and included the term country clubs in the title field, since the article was titled “Country Clubs Get Snubbed.”

She purchased the article, found it contained some information about trends, and added it to her collection of articles.

It was time to analyze the data that had been collected from the Internet research and online database services.

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