<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.>
Many researchers will avoid newspaper and magazine articles as well as social media posts out of concern that such sources are filled with the sort of anecdotal and unsubstantiated evidence that can leave risky holes in a business case.
Although you do need to be sure to evaluate most news and social media sources very carefully, in many cases they are simply a tool to help you identify key issues, experts, and sources – all of which you would then explore in other sources.
Watch for any mentions of relevant government agencies, industry associations, or academic researchers – and of any specific reports or studies – then follow those clues through to the original sources.
- This news article: More minorities are hiking and camping — good news for makers of outdoorsy gear led me to the North American camping research report that I mentioned earlier in this series of posts.
- This National Post article: Walk in a park a coping strategy for loneliness: Being near green space mattered in improving health outcomes, studies find led me to this study by an organization that advocates for older Canadians (CARP).
- And this small-town newspaper column: Why outdoor learning? led me to this (somewhat dated) list of research studies on the effects of nature on children.
As always… follow those leads! You’ll feel overwhelmed by information at times, but you have to go through that stage to get to the point where you start noticing key trends, organizations, people, and gaps in the information.
And news articles don't just summarize single research studies for you. Some articles will mention multiple studies and quote leading experts, and they might even point out gaps in knowledge and provide some analysis on key issues.
For example, see this Ottawa Citizen article from 2015: Call of the wild; New Canadian Fei Wu loves to camp and be in nature, but she's an exception. (Sub-subtitle: "Don Butler tracks the struggle to connect immigrants to Canada's parks.")
This one article led me to research done by Ontario Parks, but it also mentioned various experts, talked about a relevant documentary, and gave me the names of a couple more advocacy associations that I could look into.
And while I was digging up those sources, I came across this one: Attitudes and Barriers to Visiting Parks Canada Places.
Bottom line: a good news article can be a huge timesaver!
If you want to search across a large number of news publications at once, consider checking with your local library (public or academic) to see if they have news databases such as Canadian Newsstream, CBCA, or Factiva.
Use keywords to reflect your topic (e.g., "access to nature" OR "outdoor recreation"), and add terms to focus your search on articles that mention research (e.g., poll OR survey OR study OR studies OR researcher OR research).
That's the last of the publisher categories I wanted to cover. The next post covers a neglected, but important part of the research process >> Step FOUR: Evaluate information
Business & Economics Librarian