What Should I do if I can't access the information I need?
Have you talked to a librarian?
Can you locate the information through interlibrary loan?
Can you find relevant information that is broader?
For example: Cannot find: Raw data on winter coats sold Can find: A report that summarizes winter clothing sales trends
For example: Cannot find: A market research report on winter gear sales Can find: Economic Census data for the Retail Trade: Clothing Stores
Can you answer the same question using different information?
Actual question: Is Idaho a good market for my winter coats?
Hard to find information: How many people bought a winter coat in Boise in the last 5 years
Easier to find information: Average income for the Boise area for the last 5 years + Average number of days below 40 degrees for the last 5 years
Because your capstone may need a wide variety of information, it is impossible to provide quick access to everything you might need. This guide is designed to help you refine your search no matter what information you are trying to find.
Before you start searching, ask yourself these 4 questions
What information do I need? What are the demographics of people in the United States who purchased a high-end winter coat in the last five years?
Who would create that information? Retail trade organizations, private companies
What form would that information take? Raw data, market research reports, company reports
Would that information be available? Retail trade organization reports: Maybe, some organizations make these freely available on the web. Market research reports: Unlikely, these are usually very expensive and the library does not have a resource that includes them. Company reports: Maybe, if it is a publicly traded company it is likely available in the Investor Relation section of their website, but may lack detail.
As you develop your topic, ask yourself these questions
What time period do I need to cover?
Last 5 years, Since 2000, Future Projections
What geographic region do I need to include?
International, United States, Pacific Northwest, Boise Metropolitan Area
What population, if any, am I interested in?
Gender, Age, Income Level, Education
Steps to Developing Search Terms
1. Write down your topic
Marketing winter coats
2. Brainstorm related terms, phrases, and topics
Sales, demand, advertising, cold-weather, jackets, snow gear, skiing
3. Try some of your searches in a library database, Google Scholar, or Google
winter AND (jacket OR coat) AND sales
4. Write down any searches you try and make notes about what worked and what didn't
winter > use "cold weather" instead
jacket brings back low-end products
5. Revise your search as needed adding terms you find in successful resources
"cold weather" AND (coat OR outerwear) AND sales
Retrieves sources with both terms
Retrieves sources with term "x" or term "y" or terms "x and y"
Eliminates an unwanted term
Searches for terms as a phrase
Searches for variations on a term from the point the wildcard is used (letters before the wildcard do not have to form a real word)
Helps organize complicated searches (just like math)
"Cold weather" AND (coat OR outerwear) AND market* AND NOT ski*