Consultants extract information from literature, reports, and internet resources at every stage of an assignment, to get up to speed before the initial client meeting, and before/during most types of activities, organization development, market research, and competitive intelligence, because whichever problem is addressed, it has probably already been addressed before. It is important to strike a balance between big picture (not enough) and very detailed information (too much).
- Articulate the theme being researched
- Define a list of keywords, including synonyms and alternative terms
- Establish an appropriate scope for the research: type of publication (peer reviewed articles, activity reports, industry reports, newspapers, books, blogs), date of publication (<1 month, <1 year, < 10 years), depth of publication (summary, full text, individual sections).
- Interrogate relevant databases using keywords and scope defined above
- Select a set of documents by exploring table of contents, summary, charts
- Exploit the selected documents: an efficient method is to focus on the questions/theme being researched at all time while reading, highlight sections that relate to the questions/theme, and at the end of a document synthetize key ideas/graphics to permit easy access in the future