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Trampoline 4 of 12: Step two - Ask broader questions

Published by Mark Bodnar

<This series of posts is aimed at the current RADIUS Trampoline cohort – but will be of use to anyone learning to do secondary market research. Click on the table of contents to go to the first post.>Table of contents of this post series. Links back to first post.

OK, now that you have your initial questions, you’re ready to start searching, right?  

Well, no, not really.  

If you can hang on just a few more minutes, there’s another step that can help you be even more efficient: one more quick round of brainstorming.

Take a deep breath ... and think about what you might do if perfect answers to your initial questions can’t be found.  What could you look for that might allow you to at least estimate the answers to your initial/perfect questions?

For instance, assume your original list of questions included something about the current number of mobility impaired people who regularly

line drawing of a forest behind two people in wheelchairs -- one getting on a horse via a ramp, the other getting on a boat

participate in outdoor leisure activities in BC.  

  • If you couldn't find that very specific piece of information, could you find a way to work with similar data from a different city, province, or country?
  • Or with older data?  
  • Or with data on related topics that might allow you to calculate a rough estimate of the numbers you need? 

For example,

purple question markCould you look for similar numbers from other provinces or countries, along with data on overall participation in outdoor leisure and data on the percentage of the population with such mobility impairments?  

You might then compare such numbers to what you know about BC and try to estimate at least a likely range for the BC data you can’t find.

red question markOr maybe you could instead look for examples of BC organizations (parks, camps, etc.) that have made an effort to improve accessibility.  

Did they provide local numbers for before/after participation?  Can you extrapolate up from that local situation to the provincial context?  Can you use such older numbers as the foundation for an estimate about the current situation?

You don’t have to brainstorm every possible question. You just need to have some specific questions in mind (and back-up questions in case the initial ones prove to be impossible to find).  You will be more likely to search in the right places (more on that in a bit) and to recognize useful information buried in your results if you’ve done this brainstorming first.  

line drawing of a person speaking on a megaphoneAs with your initial round of brainstorming, you don’t need to be exhaustive at this point. You’ll continue coming up with new questions throughout your research as you learn more about the topic and about information that is publicly available on it.  

However, if you start by thinking about how you might relax some of your conditions (geography, time, industry, topic…) and expand your scope, you may spot useful resources more quickly... ones that you can at least use to estimate what you really need to know.

Still with me?  Perfect!  On to >> Step THREE!  Predict likely publishers

Mark Bodnar
Business & Economics Librarian

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