The Everyday Researcher

6th May, 2011

In my previous ‘everyday researcher blogs I briefly looked at the issue of defining the research problem and argued that the questions asked act as ‘guides’ to the types of evidence required. I also said that it is important to ensure that you don’t lose focus upon your objectives.

I’ve been collecting evidence or, in market research speak, doing the fieldwork and in some ways this is the most crucial stage: no data means there’s no evidence to analyse and therefore nothing to inform our final decision. It stands to reason therefore that we need to ensure the information we obtain is accurate and unbiased, or valid and reliable. We want to know it can be trusted.

In relation to my e-reared research I’ve got two easily accessible and cost effective sources from which to collect information; namely the Internet and retailers. Both are useful in providing some ‘hard facts’ on product specifications and they also offer opportunities to gather ‘qualitative’ evidence through product reviews (by professionals and peers.) Most importantly in the case of retail outlets, I have the ability to actually touch the products.

Finding detailed technical specs for the Kindle and PRS650 was as easy as going to the Amazon and Sony websites. However, finding up to date quality information from independent Internet sources was more challenging because you have to sift through lots of ‘junk’ before you find that hidden gem of information you want. And sorting the proverbial wheat from the chaff is important for ensuring the information you have is both valid and reliable

For me the best part in this stage were my trips to retail outlets to look at the products. Now I was surprised to find that any major retail chain would have a physical specimen of the Kindle, especially as I was expecting Amazon to make all sales via their website. I spent several leisurely hours wondering around different stores looking at tablet PCs, netbooks and e-readers.

I looked at the aesthetics of the different products, their size, shape, design, etc. I read the specifications, gave them a bit of a test run and noted how much they cost; needless to say after a few hours I was suffering from information overload, but at least I now had some quality evidence to be getting on with.

All I have to do now is bring it all together, work out what it all means and decide which to buy. … bring on the analysis!