Guide to ResearchersJanette Toral
Ever since I founded the Philippine Internet Commerce Society in 1997, I’ve been flooded with e-mails coming from corporate market researchers, college and MBA students, government and NGO professionals who got invited to speak at international events, asking questions in relation to e-commerce in our country. There are times when I’m too busy that hampers me from answering back sooner and such makes me feel bad.
This inspired me to put up DigitalFilipino.com to serve as an e-commerce guide for researchers. To conserve my resources as well in answering questions, I have created a researcher’s eFilipino community to allow researchers to post their questions and view my past responses as well.
As much as it is noble to help researchers out, there’s one common flaw to most of them. They are misguided on how to do their work. And so I hope professors and instructors will get the chance to read this article. It is their responsibility to guide students on what they must do to get their research done.
If you’re a student tasked to do a research but were not properly guided by your instructors, here are some pointers to make life a bit easier. But first, an example:
A researcher writes: “Hi! I’m currently doing a research paper on e-commerce to fulfill a grade requirement for my Computer Science course at XYZ school. I was referred by a friend to e-mail you as a source of this information. In this regard, do you have a list of Internet caf’s, ISPs, dotcoms in the Philippines with their contact persons, and e-mail address. If you have their customer demographical information and their sales last year, that would really help a lot. How many Internet users are there in the Philippines? How many of them do e-commerce? How much have they purchased online last year? Your help is very much appreciated and I promise to give you a copy of my report once done. I hope you can reply to me asap since my deadline is already this Monday.”
This is a typical e-mail that I receive from researchers almost every week. It is offending to get an e-mail from researchers asking for local websites, statistical figures, names of individuals and corporations, demanding even for an immediate or ASAP response. As if they expect me to do all the work for them.
I have no intention of spoon-feeding researchers but what I normally give is a guide to how they can get the data that they need. Researchers must start gathering data first before approaching resource persons and seek for clarification.
As a starting point, utilize local publications, such as Inq7.net, IT Matters, ITNetCentral, which have IT sections, search engines, archives, site maps ‘ and look for the information you need. If you have access to one of the library partners of the Philippines eLibrary, this will allow you to access and perform search queries on numerous paid research databases.
If access to the Internet is not available, you can go to university libraries, CHED office near you, and look at past student researchers, local newspapers, and IT magazines published in the last six months. In most articles — even if they are stories about companies – the trends, statistical data, sales figures, targets, and industry opinion — are more often that not mentioned. Make sure that you quote the article title, writer, date and name of publication in the report. Otherwise, the researcher may end up violating somebody else’s copyright.
I am more than willing to give clarification and input to researchers who have demonstrated that they exerted due diligence. At the minimum, I just asked them to bring a copy of my book that they have purchased in the past. This way, my assistance shall be seen as an appreciation of their support.
I’m sure as well that the dotcoms, ISPs, Internet caf’s that you will interview will be more than happy to clarify some information if they see that you’ve done your homework in gathering information about them.
Researchers should know as well that when writing to a person who doesn’t know you, NEVER use “ASAP” in your e-mail. Else, you might not get a response at all or receive a sarcastic reprimand.
Researchers love to offer a copy of the report as a token to resource persons. All this time, since 1997, that I’ve been answering student queries and have given in to their appointment request, very few have given me a copy of their report up to this date.
Market research is an elusive skill. It takes an analytical mind to spot what is vital information in a very simple article. How you integrate all these information and make a powerful report takes experience and knowledge of the industry. Student researchers who will be able to hone their skills have a bright future ahead of them.