Too much information? Strategies to Discover and Manage Information

Workflow | Rhianna Jones | December 16, 2016

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Rhianna Jones, Marketing Manager at IFIS Publishing, talks about the challenges of information overload and shares some tips for effective research.

The internet makes it possible for us to access valuable information from all over the world, from the traditional scientific resources of academic journals and multi-reference works to industry information, government documents, mass media, and company and user-generated content.

However, this wealth of information can often feel more like an overload, making it daunting to find what you need and keep up-to-date.

Research is one of many, many demands on your time, whether you’re a librarian, a researcher or a student, and it is essential for research to be as efficient as possible. A common way to handle this is to be selective when researching; for example, prioritising the key journals in your field.

However, interdisciplinary research, joint degrees and niche journals are becoming ever more prevalent, making it even more challenging.

How do you know where to start?

To save time, think about exactly what you need, and where you are most likely to find it. Before you start, ask yourself key questions, such as:

  • What kind of information do you need? Scientific data? Regulations? Marketing information?
  • Are you interested in a specific area of research, or is it more general?
  • Do you only want research from a specific time period, or everything that has been published on the topic?

For example, I need…

Thinking about what you need at the start helps you to understand the most useful types of publication and the best place to find them, helping to make the research process quicker and easier.

Assessing the reliability of information

When it comes to research, both quantity and quality are important. So when you have found information, you need to assess whether it’s reliable and suitable.

Here is a selection of useful questions to help you understand the appropriateness and reliability of the resources you are using:

1. Who is responsible for the data?
Are they an authoritative body or subject expert? Do you know them and trust them?

2. Is the information sponsored by anyone?
If it is, think about whether they are likely to have their own agenda

3. For open access journals, does the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) list it as a reputable title?
This is a useful resource to help you judge the reliability of OA titles specifically

4. Is the information balanced?
Are multiple points of view given? If not, do they have a caveat that it is just their opinion?

5. Is it scientifically rigorous and accurate?
Is the spelling and grammar correct? Are the references credible? Is the methodology transparent and reliable?

6. Is it clear when the information was published?
When was it last updated? Is the information still relevant?

7. Who is the target audience?
Consumers? The general public? Children? Academia? Is it at the right level for you and your needs?

Watch our recent webinar for more information on effective research in the sciences of food and health. We go into detail on research tools including our own database FSTA®, some of our favorite online information resources, and tips on how to use the information you have found correctly.

View the Webinar

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Rhianna Jones
Marketing Manager at IFIS Publishing

Rhianna has been working in academic publishing for over 7 years. Before joining IFIS as Marketing Manager in 2014, she worked on journals at Elsevier. Rhianna has a BA (hons) in English Literature and an MA in Publishing where she specialised in scientific journals.

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