I’ve been updating my libguides for the fall semester. In the process I’m trying to make the content better organized, like using shared boxes and pages as much as possible. I worked on this content consolidation last summer too, so you would think those guides would be in great shape by now, but nooo…
I’ve also worked on eradicating a recent pet peeve of mine: business-related content lumped under the category of “Statistics”.
You see “statistics” as a chapter in business research manuals (including two very helpful books I praised in July) as well as on business and social science library guides. But If “Statistics” has its own chapter or libguide page, why not also a category for “Words” or “Text”? Data sources are just as important in business research as textual sources. Why marginalize data that way?
Another problem with “Statistics” as a category — there are so many types for us:
- consumer spending
- public company financials
- investment data
- industry ratios
- industry size
- market size and shares
- benchmarks for private company financials
- labor & employment data
- social statistics (ex. crime rates)
- trade flows
- other economic indicators
Yes, certainly, there are important general statistical sources like the revived Statistical Abstract of the U.S., Fedstats, and Statista. If the students in a class are researching a wide variety of topics, links to a few general statistical collections might be useful.
Provide more than a few general links, though, and our poor students probably won’t know where to start. It’s not likely the students are going to carefully examine descriptions of a dozen sources before choosing one. (I inherited a “Statistics” page on a libguide that listed 13 resources, including FactFinder, Statistical Warehouse, SimplyMap, the Economic Census, the BLS, County Business Patterns, the NC Department of Commerce, and a HUD site.)
Instead of lumping all those links together under “Statistics”, each should be covered under the appropriate topic, integrating statistical sources with related textual sources. So many good sources combine useful textual information with useful numeric data anyway — IBIS is a good example. So population Census data should be covered under “Market Research” or “Demographics”; BizMiner should be under “Financials” or perhaps “Industries”.