When doing research, brief or in depth, in the fields of advertising and consumerism, you will benefit from using both the subscription databases that are available to you through our library, as well as the information you can find on the open web (meaning what you find by doing a Google or Yahoo search) When using Google, there is an advantage to also using Google Scholar and Google Books, as these features in Google can be much more effective in leading you to resources that are more appropriate for academic research, in addition to directing you to the libraries nearest you that hold particular resources.
The open web can be very useful for locating information published by trade associations (professional associations in the area of advertising), or for getting a consumer’s view on issues of advertising, or for finding popular culture information as it relates to the topic. When using the open web, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
First, you should always be able to determine who has created the web site you are looking at. Who is this individual? What is this organization? You should be able to easily identify a name but also something about the person or group. If the creator of the web site is an individual, is he or she affiliated with a college or university, an organization or corporation? What bias may exist based upon affiliation, or what agenda may the individual or group have? Having a bias or agenda is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of it if it exists (and it is worth noting that you should learn to ask these questions regardless of whether your source is found on the web, in a database, in print, or in some other format). One of the first steps in research is analyzing sources. If you have questions or run into problems, ask a librarian or your professor.
Most of the databases you will find on our library’s web site are subscription databases, meaning in order for you to have access to them we have to pay an annual fee (usually in the thousands of dollars). The majority of this information would be considered more authoritative. Certainly in the case of articles in scholarly or professional journals, the information has gone through some type of review process before being published. This does not mean you should not still ask the same questions mentioned in the previous paragraph, but you should be able to use these resources with a certain level of confidence. Any serious research would not be complete without using databases such as the ones our library provides for you.
We would like to acknowledge the library of Southern