The Smith Test

Online investigations

When searching online databases for public records or news articles, it’s essential to know how many years the database covers. For example, are you searching from 1982 forward, or does the database only go back as far as 1999? You need this information when you’re trying to be as comprehensive as possible – or to […]

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What I learned at #SLA2015

SLA2015

One event I regularly attend and rarely miss is the annual conference of the Special Libraries Association. For me, this year’s conference was unique, because it was the first time in a while that I wasn’t speaking or running a meeting. I had no obligations other than to learn and network as much as possible. […]

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Are your biases showing? Avoiding confirmation bias in due diligence investigations

Stop bias sign

A friend and fellow info pro sent this WSJ article to me, because, she said, it illustrated perfectly how “confirmation bias” often gets in the way of critical thinking. As information professionals, it’s something we strive to avoid, and it can rear its ugly head when we least expect it – in our choice of […]

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7 Keys to Making Data Actionable

Turning useless data into something actionable

New technologies help companies stockpile potentially valuable data, but what we often get in return for our efforts is a bad case of information overload. No, nowadays, we don’t wish for more data. We often have more than we can handle. What we really crave these days is actionable data – something that will help […]

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The Top 3 Myths About Going Independent

myth word cloud

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker in Kim Dority’s Alternative Career Paths for Librarians class at the University of Denver. Each year, Mary Ellen Bates and I visit the class to share our experiences as “independent information professionals.” Mary Ellen and I are among a group with graduate degrees in library […]

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6 Tips for Getting People to Talk

telephone research

It’s hard to believe that my book, Research on Main Street: Using the Web to Find Local Business and Market Information, was published four years ago last month. As the title suggests it’s about web research tips and techniques, but I emphasize throughout the book that you can’t find everything online. Maybe what you’re looking […]

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Buying images – “free” just isn’t worth it

If you’re creating presentations, blog posts, or any other type of content, you need a good source for buying images. Yes, I know you don’t have to pay, but “free” image sites just aren’t worth it, since quality and search capabilities leave a lot to be desired – and you don’t have to worry about […]

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Subcontracting success: My #1 tip for making it work

Here at Phelps Research, I collaborate with a team of associates who help gather intelligence for our investigative profiles. Without their specialized skills or local, boots-on-the-ground research, we can’t provide the depth of due diligence our clients need . At the recent annual conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), I did a […]

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Visualization: How to choose the right graphic

Displaying research results in a visual format adds impact and brings clarity where words often fail. Whether you’re creating an annual report, executive summary, or a presentation for your CEO, charts, graphs, and maps provide analysis and help readers understand and remember the information you deliver. When I lead workshops on information visualization (it’s not […]

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The Vendor Experience – the tools of our trade

Here at Phelps Research, we use a wide variety of tools for gathering and processing the information our clients crave. Without these tools, I couldn’t run my business, and without the benefits I receive from my membership in the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), I wouldn’t be able to access them without charging much […]

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