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Research Spotlight

Bridging the Business Data Divide

Academic librarians and data specialists use a variety of approaches to gain insight into how researcher data needs and practices vary by discipline, including surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Some published studies included small numbers of business school faculty and graduate students in their samples, but provided little, if any, insight into variations within the business discipline. Business researchers employ a variety of research designs and data collection methods and engage in quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

Fort Erie Peace Bridge by Takashi Toyooka
Fort Erie Peace Bridge by Takashi Toyooka

The purpose of my research is to provide deeper insight into primary and secondary data use by business graduate students at one Canadian university based on a content analysis of a corpus of 32 Master of Science in Management theses. I explore variations in research designs and data collection methods between and within business subfields (e.g., accounting, finance, operations and information systems, marketing, or organization studies) in order to better understand the extent to which these researchers collect and analyze primary data or secondary data sources, including commercial or open data sources. The results of this analysis will inform the work of data specialists and liaison librarians who provide research data management services for business school researchers.

A paper based on this research is under review for publication in IASSIST Quarterly. The conference paper may be found at

Linda D. Lowry is the Business and Economics Liaison Librarian at Brock University. Her research interests are related to investigating business and economic information-seeking practices and information literacy competencies. Her primary research method is content analysis.

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