Other Sources of Information
Besides the library and the Web, there are numerous other sources of information. I will discuss the three other major ones here.
You can generate your own information by conducting original research. This can be done in many different ways. You could conduct a survey. You could take oral histories from people or interview people. You could do statistical analysis of data that already exists. You could do a meta-study of other studies and research that has already been done. You could perform experiments--this is the most familiar original research because of the medical field.
The advantage of original research is that it can be focused specifically on the question you want to address. The disadvantage of original research is that it is filled with many potential mistakes which will lead you to eroneous conclusions. There is a long learning curve to learning how to do research that is valid and verifiable.
Another approach to gaining information is to ask an authority... someone who is an expert. Many people have spent their lives learning everything about a specific area. They can be a gold mine of information and educated opinions.
The disadvantage of using authorities is that you almost have to be as much of an authority to be able to judge the quality of the authority you are using. There is the old joke about an expert. What is an "expert?" Well, an "ex" is a has-been. And a "spurt" is a drip under pressure. (Ha, ha).
Circles of knowledge (intranets)
A source of information and ideas used in many professional arenas is the circle of knowledge. If you have expert status in a field, you will probably get to know the other experts in the field and the group will probably trade ideas, research results, etc. This is often also referred to as hidden networks because usually the only people who know about these circles of knowledge are the members themselves. And that is the down side. You are not apt to get any information from this source unless you are a member.
Please send comments to:
Colby Glass, MLIS
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