Recall the four-step process in information collection. The first step is to define the information needed. The second step is to determine the sources to search, the databases, and the parts within the database. The third step is using search techniques and tools. The fourth step is viewing the results and managing the information.
Step one, defining the information needed, depends on the particular task. Evaluate databases in part based on their content. Content depends in part on the reliability of the publisher, the type of information included, the range of years covered in the database, and the particular strengths and weaknesses of the database.
Also evaluate databases by considering database navigation, access, technical support, and training. Navigation examines whether the links are clear and the depth of the information links. Access includes such concerns as whether different fields (i.e., author, publication, date) are separately searchable, as well as the number of simultaneous-users restrictions. Training considers whether online tutorials exist, each page has a link to a help file, and whether live tutorials are possible, as well as their cost.
Accountants may need to assess databases to find specialized news sources monitoring important topics for the industry or the client. Often one must break down broad primary questions into more specific tasks to acquire the data needed to make conclusions. Consider how you plan to use the information before ...