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Types of information

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Information comes from a multitude of sources and generally can be characterized as proprietary (protected and shared), public (fee based and free), primary, and secondary. 

The information industry has its structure, technology, suppliers, distributors, customers, products, and price structure, just as any other industry does. 

By understanding the variety of online information products and their distribution systems, the researcher is in a better position to identify the source most likely to have the desired information. 

Understanding the types of information facilitates the development of an effective search strategy.  Illustrates the various types of information.

Proprietary vs. Public
Proprietary information is owned or protected in some way, and it may be inaccessible if it is closely guarded or kept secret by the owner. 

Individual companies generally control their internal information carefully.  For instance, certain market data such as internal sales data or customer profiles should be available internally to a company’s market research department but are not likely to be available to outside researchers. 

The trade secret behind the formula for Coca-Cola is a good example of proprietary information that you can assume is not available through ethical research methods.
Some proprietary information is shared with the public. 

This information is furnished by people and businesses with the understanding that it will likely be published and generally available. 

Such information might be found in a directory, on a company Web site, in a press release, or in a book or journal.

Public information comes from fulfillment of government requirements to file records or documents or from government agencies that gather and disseminate information.  Public information is generally available for free from the agency that collected or produced it.  Occasionally a fee is required to cover the costs of printing or distribution.
 

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