You can develop better data information using new practical tools like Boolean operators, quotation marks, and the asterisk or star symbol. These tools can be used in most databases and will help make sure you're getting the most relevant data from your research without spending hours staring at a computer screen.
The first of these tools is Boolean operators, which involves using the words “AND”, “OR” and “NOT”. When incorporated into your search strategy, these words are always written in capital letters and can be used as often as you need them. “AND” retrieves items that include two different concepts together, for example, an article that talks about caffeine and sprint performance. “OR” is useful when it doesn't matter which concept shows up in your data as long as one concept is included.
For example, searching for “teenagers or young adults” will likely provide information on similar types of people, even though you're using different terms. “NOT” can remove search results you may not need by filtering out specific words. For example, if you were interested in information on outdoor walking patterns and kept getting information about treadmill walking, you could search for walking patterns, not treadmill, which would help to remove some of this information from your list.
Truncation involves the use of the star symbol or asterisk. This symbol comes at the end of your root word, and it's helpful if you're using a concept that might have different endings. For example, by using the star symbol at the end of the word “teen”, you would get results for “teen”, “teens”, “teenage”, “teenager” or “teenagers” without having to type in all of these words separately.
You could even use it for a word like Canada. By dropping “a”, you'd get information that uses the words “Canada”, “Canadian” or “Canadians.” By putting quotation marks around a specific concept or phrase, you will be able to keep these words together in your search. For example, if you didn't put the term “heart rate” in quotation marks, you could get articles that talk about either of these words separately, bringing up unrelated terms like heart disease or mortality rate.
Gathering data is all about filling the gaps in what you know and getting answers to any questions you may have. Ultimately, you want to be in a position to use data wrangling to make the best decision you possibly can. So what sort of information are you searching for? There are two main sorts of information. First, there are numbers and statistics. This is known as quantitative research.
This is all about finding out things such as the size of the market you are operating in. What is the value of the market? How many items are sold? Or if you are in the business to business market, how many contracts are available to bid for? How many customers are there? How many are likely to buy your product or service? You'll want to know how many businesses are already competing in this market and what market share they each have?
Sometimes the published data won't give you enough detailed information. In this case you may want to conduct your own research using surveys or questionnaires. For example, if your business is designing websites, you may want to conduct a short survey with local businesses to find out how many of them have a website and how often they change the design. If you are going to run an agency for temporary teaching staff, you may want to survey schools in the area to find out how many temporary staff they need and how often they need them. The second sort of information is qualitative research. This is based on attitudes and opinions and is used to find out what your target customers think and feel about your idea or product or service.
Finally, it's important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as perfect data information. Don't be afraid to try different options to see which techniques work best.