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The Skeptical Business Searcher
The Information Advisor's Guide to Evaluating Web Data, Sites and Sources

Berkman, Robert
Publisher:  Information Today Inc, Medford, USA
Year Published:  2004  
Pages:  281pp   Price:  $44.95   ISBN:  0-910965-66-8
Library of Congress Number:  HF54.56.B4685   Dewey:  025.06`338

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Berkman is the author of Find It Fast, and founder and editor of The Information Advisor newsletter published by Information Today, Inc. This current book is a basic online research guide to evaluating no-cost online information, particularly business data, on the Web.

He relies mainly on sites that promote "trusted" data (although in some cases that trusted data maybe one-sided or unbalanced as in PR materials). Thus, he covers company histories and overviews, corporate sales and earnings data, SEC filings and stockholder reports, public records, market research studies, competitive intelligence, industry analyses, staff directories, executive biographies, survey/poll data, press releases, news stories, niche markets, and small businesses.

He also comments on the invisible Web, the sites which have a no robots command.

All of these are illustrated with copious screen shots showing Web sites. He tries to show the reader how to recognize bias and misinformation, and this section is useful. There are interviews with investigators for tips and advice. His appendix has a list of referenced sites and sources, but this can also be found on the book's Web site (which is also updated) books.infotoday.com/skepticalbiz.

I'm not quite sure what the skeptic reference in the title is all about. There is a well-known saying in journalism: the difference between a skeptic and a cynic is that the cynic is better informed.

Audience or interest level: business journalists, researchers, libraries.

Some interesting facts: "My number one source - heads and shoulders above the rest - is Gary Price's Resource Shelf" (www.resourceshelf.com)

What I don't like about this resource: we've seen it all before, even from a slew of books by Information Today, Inc. But this is the latest, and the most up-to-date. Also, for us in Canada, the material here is just American. There is no reference to Bill Dedman's excellent powerreporting.com, Berkman's main competition.

What I do like about this resource: there is a ten point checklist for a systematic method to evaluate Web site reliability, with a list of other recommended evaluation checklists.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 87.

[Review by Dean Tudor]

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