Market Research Society launches summer school

The UK Market Research Society has launched a new summer school called Research in Action. It will be held on 12-16 June 2006 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Cambridge, UK.

The intensive, five-day residential course programme is designed to:

  • deepen knowledge of research approaches and techniques
  • build business awareness
  • revitalise research skills
  • challenge thinking
  • open up new perspectives on the business of research

For more information and to book visit

Electronic Information Risk Management – UKeiG training course

If you are involved in email management, database management, 0r collection and storage of e-information in any form, the UKeiG one day training course Electronic Information Risk Management being held on 16th May may of interest to you.

Every organisation is now required to ensure that the use of electronic information and e-systems comply with legal, regulatory and best practice requirements. This training course will provide a sound understanding of electronic information risks and how to manage them. It will be a combination of presentations, group tasks, discussions of best practice and practical problem solving sessions. A practical case study will be used to highlight typical areas of e-information risks.

Topics to be covered include:

  • e-mail Management
  • Collection and Storage of E-Information
  • Metadata
  • Protection of Personal Information
  • e-Database Management
  • e-Information Incident Handling
  • e-Information Access Management
  • Retention and Disposal of e-Information

The course presenter is Dr Rita Esen, a Cyber Law Consultant.

The course is being held at CILIP in London and costs (including lunch and refreshments) are
UKeiG members £130 + VAT (£152.75), others £160 + VAT (£188.00)

Further details and a booking form are on on the UKeiG web site.

Top Search Tips from Manchester

I ran another Advanced Search Strategies workshop on April 26th. This time it was organised and hosted by Manchester Business School. As usual the participants were asked at the end of the day to come up with their own list of top tips and tools. There were no real surprises in the list, although two RSS/Blog tools were mentioned this time around highlighting the increased interest in these technologies. Wikipedia was popular despite some of the bad press it has been receiving, and the new Accoona News SuperTarget makes its first appearance in the list.

1. There are other search tools. Alternative search engines to Google such as Yahoo, Ask, and Exalead sort your results in different ways and have unique search features. Try evaluated subject listings such as BUBL, EEVL, Alacrawiki for quality information and overviews on industries and subjects.

2. Use the domain/site search options to search for types of sites or to search just one site. For example for Australian government sites, .edu for US academic pages, for UK official statistics. Ideal for those massive sites that have dire navigation menus and in-site search, or for tracking down lost documents within a site. Available in Google, Yahoo, Exalead and Ask.

3. Repeat the most important term or terms several times in your search strategy to change the order in which documents are ranked. For example ‘beer market share belgium czech’ and ‘beer market share belgium czech czech czech’ give different results. Works in Google, Yahoo and Exalead

4. Use synonyms in your search. Use the OR command to search for your own alternative terms, the ~ before a term in Google to use Google’s synonym search, or see what terms and strategies search engines such as Exalead and Ask suggest.

5. Ask or answer your question in your search strategy. For example “How fast can a hippopotamus run” or “A hippopotamus can run at”

6. If you are new to RSS, try for monitoring RSS feeds for current awareness and alerts.

7. Try for searching blogs, especially the Trend Search. The free web version allows you to monitor and compare graphically the frequency of up to three search terms or phrases over a period of up to 6 months.

8. BBC news for current and archived news

9. Wikipedia for a general overview of a topic.

10. SuperTarget News enables you to further refine your search by date, publisher, relevant company, person, country and state. It will also search free sources of news that provide archives older than 30 days.

11. Use meta search tools to search quickly across several different tools at once: – to run your search across dozens of tools one by one, and by type of information for example blogs, images, audio/video – generates a single deduplicated list and organises similar results into folders or topics – searches Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN. You can view a single deduplicated list or view two or more of the results lists side by side with the unique results in each highlighted. – generates a single list of results but also gives you the option to display what Google missed, what was unique to Google etc.

If you failed to get a place on the course this time around, the workshop is being re-run at Manchester Business School on September 14th, 2006. Further details are on the Manchester Business School web site at

Exportis 2006 Importers Directories

Exportis have announced the publication of their 2006 directories.

The International Directory of Importers lists major importers and distributors in 160 countries and contains over 150,000 entries for importing firms in Europe, Asia/Pacific, North America, South/Central America, Middle East and Africa. Detailed company information includes telephone and fax numbers, e- mail and web address, contact person, year established and number of employees.

The Importers Directory is in nine volumes and each of the six geographical areas can be purchased separately.

The International Directory of Agents, Distributors & Wholesalers is organized by country, company and product. The information includes company name and address; telephone/fax numbers; email and web address; contact person; company type; number of employees; year the business was established; bank reference; list of products handled.

Further details and prices are on the Exportis web site at

Alacra Store Upgrades

Alacra has upgraded its Alacra Store interface with AJAX. So what is AJAX? The acronym stands for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML and it is a technique for creating interactive web applications. According to Wikipedia (

“The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the Web page’s interactivity, speed, and usability.”

For me, the new Alacra interface is faster and slicker, and a significant improvement. Alacra Store has also been adding resources, previously only available via its annual subscription service, and all search results now display the keyword in context (KWIC). The KWIC feature allows users to see the frequency and context in which search terms appear in the relevant documents.

Free information is listed at the top of the results screen, but you may find that some of the links take you to a screen that lists subscription services. Nevertheless, for public companies the free snapshots provide excellent summaries.

For those of you who have not yet tried Alacra Store, this is a pay-as-you-go version of Alacra’s business information subscription service. A list of publishers and information providers is at available on the site at . I initially reviewed Alacra Store in the July/August 2005 Tales from the Terminal Room ( I am pleased to see that more resources are continually being added but still feel that the news articles are overpriced (now USD 10 an article). I also see that Bun & Bradstreet reports are now available, but at USD 288 they are grossly overpriced if you are looking at private companies. This is not the fault of Alacra: I have seen the same reports at the same price offered via other services, but in my experience they do not offer any information that is not available from other providers at a lower and more reasonable price.

If you are exploring industry sectors, try out out the links at the bottom of the web pages to the public and private company indexes. These are sorted by industry sector and are a quick and easy way of identifying the major companies that are active in a particular sector. There is, though, a problem with the way that they are indexed. I was initially surprised that I could not find the Russian company Gazprom, especially as a keyword search found numerous documents. I then realised that the full name of the company is OAO Gazprom and that it is listed under O and not G. A little more work on the company index is needed, I think, to take into account that many end users will not always know the full legal name of a company.

Overall, highly recommended for anyone requiring pay as you go access to business information.

Corporate Blogging

As interest in corporate and business blogging increases, the number of listings of these types of blogs also increases. The Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki at is a good starting point and lists active public blogs by company employees about the company and/or its products. According to the web site authors, Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine) and Ross Mayfield (Socialtext), only 27 (5.4%) of the Fortune 500 are actively blogging. Not surprisingly the majority are in the IT sector but notable exceptions are General Electric, General Motors, and MacDonald’s who run a Corporate Responsibility Blog. An alternative listing together with comments on updates and new blogs is at Fortune 500 Blogs (

The Fortune 500 covers US companies only but there is a link from the Socialtext bizblogs page to a handful of Global 1000 blogs at and one to a list of European corporate blogs at Unfortunately, the latter will no longer be updated after April 2006 but for the time being it is still a useful list.

Another excellent starting point for corporate blogging is the NewPR Wiki at, which has lists of CEO blogs by country, corporate blogs, product blogs and and business podcasts. There are also sections on blogging policies, legal challenges and articles on business blogging.

Windows Academic Search

Microsoft have launched Windows Live Academic (beta) , a potential competitor to Google Scholar. It covers peer reviewed articles on computer science, physics, electrical engineering and related subjects and boasts more than 6 million records from approximately 4300 journals and 2000 conferences. The initial version is limited to computer science, electrical engineering and physics from scholarly societies, but content from other subject areas are promised. Unlike Google, Microsoft does provide a source list at

This service is very much “beta” and I suspect that Microsoft is putting down their marker to say “Google are not the only ones doing this”. Gary Price has published an excellent overview of the service together with comments.

I like the sort options (relevance, date – newest and oldest, author, journal and conference) but search does not reflect this structure. Unless I have missed something, the only option that I can see is keyword. When I am searching this type of literature I often want limit my search by author. I may also want to limit the search by date. None of these options are currently available. I do like the way the results are presented, though. The left hand side of the screen lists your results. When you move your mouse over one of the results the right hand side of the screen displays title, abstract, author(s) and the bibliographic details.

Although the search results and bibliographic details are free, you must either have a subscription to the journal or pay on a per-article basis to access the full text via the publishers web site.

This is a beta service but there is no feedback option on the search or results pages. It is only on the FAQ page that they give you an email address that you can use for comments-

It will be interesting to see how this service develops.

hakia Search Engine Beta

“Search For Meaning” says hakia’s web site. “hakia is building the Web’s first “meaning-based” search engine, one that will bring answers and meaningful results to questions on any topic”. And then “hakia deploys fuzzy logic (approximate reasoning) methods to allow flexibility so that the Ontological Semantics solution becomes feasible in a Web search application with stringent constraints.” That would normally be enough to make me run a mile and avoid it like the plague, but this new search engine had been recommended to me by Alan Pritchard, a fellow Member and Fellow of CILIP. Alan assured me that it found material he had not seen before and was worth investigating.

My first standard test search on ‘gin vodka sales UK’ hit the jackpot. Highlighted at the top of the screen and above the list of results it said “Great Question :-)”, followed by some figures and a link to the UK Gin and Vodka Association (yes, it really does exist). To be honest, though, any half decent search engine should be able to crack that one. On ‘why is grass green’ it completely lost the plot, but my first mistyped ‘what is grass green’ came up with the goods. Very odd. Other test searches such as ‘Hubbert peak oil’ and ‘car ownership UK’ performed well and hakia did indeed come up with some high quality sites in the top 10-20 that were not in the top results of the other mainstream engines.

I have forced myself to use hakia alongside Google, Yahoo, Ask and Exalead for what I call real-life searches. It is a bit erratic at times but at others it comes up with some real gems. Today, I was looking for current headline inflation rates in the UK compared with the underlying inflation rate. Not only did hakia find the official figures for me but it also offered sites explaining the different indices and the background to the changes over the years.

Definitely one to try and watch for further developments.

Exalead enhances NEAR command

Exalead has enhanced its NEAR command by allowing searchers to specify how close they want their search terms to be to one another. By default, NEAR looks for your terms within 16 words of one another in the order specified. You can now specify the maximum number of words that can separate your terms by using NEAR/n.

For example:

climate NEAR/2 change

finds climate followed by change but separated by up to 2 words.

climate NEAR/5 change

finds your terms separated by up to 5 words.

It is interesting that Exalead is resurrecting some of the search options that used to be standard but have been dropped by most of the major search engines. AltaVista used to have a NEAR command but this disappeared soon after it was bought by Yahoo.