Magazine article Online Searcher

Research Mixed with Analysis Provides a Complete Meal

Magazine article Online Searcher

Research Mixed with Analysis Provides a Complete Meal

Article excerpt

Consider this scenario: You've just completed an awesome body of research. One of your clients awaits word on your findings. Now, what's that deliverable going to look like? Of course there are options, but I will make a case for thoughtful analysis of results delivered clearly and concisely. In my experience, this approach offers value, meets needs, and leads to repeat business.

I've seen the range of options in terms of deliverables, and some of them are not pretty. Imagine a busy manager in the business development group asking for an overview of a target company. Now imagine responding with an email saying, "Here's the information you asked for" along with nine attachments containing news output from a Factiva search, news and technology information from a Dialog search, links to competitor websites, and excerpts from market research reports. Watching the researcher hit the send button, I cringed.

While we're in imagination mode, put yourself in the client's place, only instead of a manager in business development, you're a hungry traveler seeking out a hot meal. You find a restaurant, talk to the waiter, and order the lasagna. After a modest amount of time, a platter lies before you. It contains a carton of ricotta cheese, a package of dried lasagna pasta, some eggs, a bundle of fresh herbs, a basket of tomatoes, and a block of parmesan cheese. What the what? Yes, technically, you have what could eventually become lasagna, but I seriously doubt you have the resources, time, skill, or interest in doing the work to make it happen. As a hungry diner, you will not value a pile of raw ingredients nearly as much as a nicely presented meal, ready to eat, prepared with the skills, judgment, and training of an experienced chef. Let us assume the same sentiment holds for our busy clients and business partners within our organizations.

Just as the chef adds value to raw ingredients by transforming them into a satisfying meal, the information professional can add value to information by creating content ready to consume. The formatting will vary according to the need, and yes, occasionally a simple email will do the trick. Info pros have the skills and experience to develop spot-on deliverables that knowledge workers need to help the organization succeed.

Many info pros do this and have done so for ages. Many do not. Why would we not undertake this kind of valuable service for our clients? It appears largely to be a matter of training, culture, and perceived resource availability.

WHY WE DELIVER RAW INGREDIENTS

What is behind an info pro's propensity to deliver the raw ingredients rather than the cooked meal? I can think of four major reasons:

* Graduate school training

* Low expectations within the organization

* Perceived lack of time or resources

* Lack of confidence in our ability to draw conclusions

In graduate school or on the job, many info pros learned to be the conduit of information, not passing judgment or offering opinions in any way. Remember the admonition, "Do not offer legal advice. You are not a lawyer." (Although in some cases we are!) "You are not a doctor, so don't offer medical advice." There are instances, however, when these warnings are inappropriate and counterproductive. Part of our professionalism is recognizing the difference.

Possibly the culture of the organization does not expect this level of service from its info pros. This may be based on the info pro's job description or the level of service received from librarians in the past. If it's the former, consider changing the job description, the job title, or both. Librarians and information professionals have an abundance of responsibilities and duties. They may feel that there are just not enough hours in the day or money in the budget to offer this level of service. Some info pros harbor a fear of missing something or getting it wrong, while others assume that the requester is better qualified to evaluate the research findings and draw conclusions. …

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