The presentation that I gave at the Association of UK Media Librarians on 19th April 2009 is now available. You can find it on my own web site as a PowerPoint (8 MB), on Slideshare and authorSTREAM. As usual, it probably won’t make much sense if you were not at the presentation but at least it gives you an idea of the tools I was highlighting.
Following Live.com’s announcement about its revamped news results, I waited with bated breath to see the new improved service in operation. Alas, nothing happened and after several days of monitoring and hearing from other bloggers how wonderful it is I was still getting the same boring old results. Then I twigged that it was probably because Live.com automatically kicks me into the UK version of its services rather than the US one. Those of us in the UK see a straight forward linear listing of text articles.
Live News – UK version
It was only when I changed my Language settings from English (United Kingdom) to English (United States) that I saw what all the fuss was about. The results page, as many have commented, is more ‘Google-like’. The appearance is similar, stories are clustered together and photos included in the listings. One up on Google, though, is the inclusion of news videos. Roll your cursor over the thumbnails and you see a preview.
Live News – US Version
Overall, I prefer Live’s presentation of the results to Google’s but Live still does not offer RSS feeds for alerts but claims that this will be appearing soon. Also planned is the incorporation of blogs into the search process.
As an aside, Google News has started pulling out quotes from the articles and displaying at them at the top of the page. Thanks to Phil Bradley for the alert.
Dig around and you can find several mainstream information providers who are twittering, although they are usually just sending their RSS feeds to Twitter via Twitterfeed rather than being actively involved in the community. Run a Twitter search on the BBC, Timesonline and the FT.
Yes, it’s another Business Information workshop Top Tips. This one was a rerun of the UKeiG event held on 2nd April, 2008. The participant mix was half private, half public sector. At the end of the day they were asked to come with a list of top sites and search tips. Between them, those attending the workshop spent half the day trying out hundreds of web sites – some of them not even mentioned by me. This is their collective list of sites that they felt were worth considering as key resources. In some cases I have also included the comments from the people nominating the site. It is interesting that there are only two sources that appear in both lists, and one of them does not really count: it was my own site, from which some of the course notes were derived so you might consider the delegates to have been brainwashed!
1. Silobreaker.com http://www.silobreaker.com/. One of the two sites that appears in both the April 2nd and this list. A relatively new service pulling together information from newspapers, journals, blogs, video and audio. In addition It offers geographical hotspots, trends and a network visualisation tool that was singled out by several workshop participants as being particularly useful.
2. OFFSTATS http://www.offstats.auckland.ac.nz/ The new set of web pages for the University of Auckland Library providing information on Official Statistics on the Web and at a new address. An excellent starting point for official statistics by country and subject/industry. As well as the makeover, there have been many additions to the collection of resources.
3. Research Wikis http://www.researchwikis.com/. This is a wiki covering market and industry data that is in the public domain; several workshop delegates commented that it looks promising. The content is variable in quality. Some reports are highly structured and detailed while others are just a “stub”, many are US biased, and the sources of the data are not always cited. Nevertheless, the reports do give you an idea of the issues affecting the sector and the terminology that is used. One of the University based delegates thought that the site’s recommended structure and headings for a report would be useful to students who are new to carrying out industry and market research.
4. Bureau van Dijk’s (BvD) “A Taste of Mint” http://mintportal.bvdep.com/ A free directory from BvD giving basic information on companies world-wide. Comment from one experienced researcher: “It found the company I have been looking for when every other directory has failed!”
5. Google Finance http://www.google.co.uk/finance/, http://www.google.com/finance/ [This was not covered in the 2nd April workshop. Until now, it has been so awful and unreliable hat I have ignored it]. This is a possible competitor to Yahoo Finance. It has been steadily improving over the last 18 months since its initial launch but still does not quite have the authoritative “feel” of Yahoo Finance. Also it does not appear to have the individual stock exchange coverage of Yahoo. It does, though, beat Yahoo when it comes to the share price graph and historical downloads options. The share price graphs are ‘annotated’ with labels at the appropriate time on the graph and these link to news articles that are listed to the right of the graph. Yahoo Finance’s downloadable historical share price data in figures goes back 5 years: Google’s goes back to 1996.
6. Google News. For the UK go to http://news.google.co.uk/ but there are a plethora of country versions. Good coverage of the last 30 days of free world-wide, national, local and industry news resources. One workshop participant said that Google News found a breaking story that the industry press and her subscription services had not yet picked up.
7. The Wayback Machine – The Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/. The Wayback Machine takes periodic snapshots of the Internet. Ideal for seeing how a company portrayed itself on the Internet in the past and for tracking down sites, pages or documents that have disappeared.
8. Chipwrapper http://www.chipwrapper.co.uk/ a Custom Google Search Engine that searches across the UK’s major national newspapers: The Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sun, The People, News of the World, The Scotsman, Daily Star, The Telegraph and The Times. It also searches the BBC News web site, ITN and Sky. There is a review of Chipwrapper on my blog at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2007/12/29/chipwrapper-search-uk-newspapers/
9. UK National Statistics http://www.statistics.gov.uk/ We will not go into the confusion users suffered when UK government official statistics web sites were re-organised on 1st April 2008 [No, it was not an April Fool’s]. Work your way through the new menus and you will eventually end up on the on the old statistics.gov.uk pages. Even without the frequent design changes, the site can be difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, there is an incredible amount of good quality data here. For the web based ‘stuff’ and formatted documents (PDF. DOC, XLS, PPT) it is often easier to go to the Google Advanced Search page, type in your terms in the search box at the top of the page and in the ‘Search within a site or domain’ box type in statistics.gov.uk . If you want to look for specific file formats, select the file extension from the drop down menu under ‘File type’. The ‘Time Series’ data have to be search from within the statistics.gov.uk site itself.
10. Companies House http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/. The UK official companies registry. This is the closest you can get to the original company documents that a registered company has to file. Some information is provided free of charge (Use the Webcheck service). Documents are charged for on a pay as you go basis.
11. RBA Sources of Business Information http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/. Selected sources of business information organised by type e.g. statistics, share prices, company registers.
PharmaLive Search (http://www.pharmalivesearch.com/) is maintained by publisher PharmaLive and powered by Convera. It searches PharmaLive’s collection of publications, selected industry and therapeutic web sites, and relevant blogs. You can search Publisher Recommended Sites, PharmaLive.com, or the Web. Although the web search option is not limited to specially selected sites, they are ranked for relevance with respect to the subject and have been filtered for spam.
‘Publisher recommended sites’ covers over 25 000 000 documents from more than 2600 selected domains. ‘Search PharmaLive’ provides results from the PharmaLive itself and its print publications. Much of the information is free but articles from PharmaLive’s own publications are priced.
Variations in spellings, for example hypoglycaemia and hypoglycemia, are automatically included in your search as are synonyms. My search on mushroom poisoning picked up terms such as toxicity, and ‘adverse reactions’ picked up ‘adverse effects’. As one would expect from a vertical search engine, the synonym identification is vastly superior to Google’s efforts. If you make a complete mess of the spelling it automatically prompts you with a “did you mean..” option.
At the top of your results page there are links to broader, narrower and related terms, and to the left of the screen are displayed most popular searches and related concepts. You can focus your search further by using the category tabs. For example, if you have chosen to search publisher recommended sites there are tabs for All, Associations, Media, Government (as far as I could see this covers relevant bodies world-wide), Companies, R&D, and Blogs. When searching PharmaLive.com you are offered options for Med Ad News, R&D Directions, and Pharma Live News. Those articles that are only available on subscription are marked with a blue padlock.
If you regularly search for pharmaceutical and health care information , add this one to your list of tools and also consider downloading the PharmLive Search toolbar.
Twenty-one enthusiastic researchers attended UKeiG’s Business Information workshop on April 2nd in London. They came from a wide range of sectors and types of organisation, and when asked to compile their Top 10 tips they came up with 15! Here they are, in no particular order of importance:
1. FITA Import Export Business and International Trade Leeds. http://www.fita.org/. The “Really Useful Links” in the menu on the left hand side of the screen takes you to a range of international sources on business information. One participant of this workshop found the “Doing business”, and in particular in the Middle East, especially useful.
2. Nationmaster http://www.nationmaster.com/. An interface to a plethora of statistics on web sites world wide. Some of the statistics are 2-3 years old but there are links to the original site so that you can search for more up to date information. Several participants suggested that this site is a good ‘index’ of where data is likely to be found.
3. Blogpulse http://www.blogpulse.com/. One of several blog search engines, but this was singled out for its Trends graphs. These show how often your search terms are mentioned in posts over a selected period of time. In a business context the occurrences will usually match reports in the mainstream media. When they don’t, click on the peaks in the graph to see what is going on behind the scenes. Superb for picking up on rumours and gossip.
4. Yahoo Finance. Go to any Yahoo and click on the Finance link. For the UK version go to http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/. Yahoo Finance provides basic information on stock exchange quoted companies on the major stock exchanges around the world. Information includes current share price information (delayed by 15-30 minutes) provided by the stock exchanges; company profiles; charts in which you can compare the company share price with another company, the sector and an index such as the FTSE 100; current news on the company and focussing on the regulatory news; and daily historical share prices as figures that can be downloaded to spreadsheets.
5. Freepint Bar http://www.freepint.com/. Head for the discussion area, labelled as the Bar, where you can post your query and tap into the knowledge of regular ‘tipplers’
6. Silobreaker. http://www.silobreaker.com/. A new site pulling news from the usual newspapers and journals, but also blogs, video and audio. In addition It offers geographical hotspots, trends and a network visualisation tool, which was singled out by one participant.
7. Contact a relevant research, trade or professional body for help in locating experts. sources of information and reports. They may not have anything on their web site but there may something ‘on file’ that they are willing to supply free of charge or for which they are prepared to negotiate a fee.
8. Intelways. http://www.intelways.com/. An interface to many search tools grouped by type e.g. news, video, image. Type your search terms in once and click on the different search tools one by one. A reminder of the different types of information that you should be looking at and of the wide range of search engines that are out there.
9. Click on the Advanced Search option for any of the tools that you encounter, be it Google et al or a web site’s own search option. They offer great ways of focussing your search by date, file format, site, author etc.
10. RBA Business Sources. http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/. Selected sources of business information organised by type e.g. statistics, share prices, company registers. Yes, it is my own site [blush] but they did insist!
11. Phil Bradley’s web site and blog. http://www.philb.com/ and http://philbradley.typepad.com/. Excellent sources of information on Web 2.0 ‘stuff’ and search tools. In particular, his blog has no-nonsense reviews of new search tools that claim they will change the world of search.
12. Intute. http://www.intute.ac.uk/. Forget about the ac.uk label. This is an excellent starting point for anyone working in business and wanting to identify quality resources on a wide range of subjects and industries.
13. Hometrack. http://www.hometrack.co.uk/. This site provides key statistics and data on the UK housing market and financing of that market. Especially relevant in the current economic climate.
14. Alacrasearch. http://www.alacra.com/alacrasearch. A Google custom search engine that focuses on business sites selected by Alacra. [A personal note: this is in my top 5 favourite search tools].
15. CIA World Factbook – country profiles. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factboo/. Key statistics on every country. For those of you of a more adventurous disposition when it comes to travel, it even includes the number of airports with unpaved runways.