Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter January 2011
Our students are now from 110 different countries, so wishing you a successful and happy 2011 in all your own languages is not possible in this newsletter Happy New Year! Best Wishes for 2011!
January Theme – Supplementary Study (mostly) via the Internet
To achieve the best results – not simply the highest grades but also the maximum knowledge and understanding, the ability to apply your learning to a range of personal and workplace situations, and to be recognised as an effective manager – it is not enough to only study the core material provided with any course of study.
Educators in business schools, colleges, and universities, and employers in every public and private business sector, all agree that gaining a specific qualification is essential, but that should represent the tip of the iceberg, the final peak of the mountain.
Below that peak, that visible evidence, should be a vast amount of knowledge and understanding which can be drawn on to help solve workplace problems and make successful decisions.
Experience is, of course, invaluable. However, for the younger manager or specialist this is, by default, limited. The same applies to those moving up into higher level positions, for example requiring that ability to consider short term and long term issues, as well as a wide range of factors related to the current and the future external environment.
To obtain such knowledge, in advance of learning through experience, is difficult, but it can be done
In essence, the answer is to research and read as widely as possible, to discuss issues with more experienced colleagues, to learn how others have responded to difficulties, problems, issues, that you will face in the future.
For the vast majority of our students this means searching on the internet, and that is the theme of this newsletter – searching for and making good use of information found on the internet.
The articles below, and the website links to the left, are designed to indicate how.
Personal & Career Development – Tip of the Month
Take the advice in this newsletter seriously!
Internet Search Tips and Strategies
We realise that many of you are expert in finding information using the Internet. However, more than 80% of our new students have not used the internet for research, or for any business or workplace related activity. This article is designed for those students ….. but may also be a useful refresher for others.
The Internet has an enormous quantity of information, with thousands of newsgroups and billions of web pages. The two questions that face any information seeker are:
How do I find what I want?
Through the use of a little creativity and some patience, you will be able to find just about anything you want.
“A little creativity” means simply that you must be able to identify the key words and phrases to search on, and sometimes to generate synonyms (words or phrases similar in meaning to each other) for the idea or topic you are searching for.
“Some patience” means that you must realise that the internet is not designed specifically for you – it is for everyone – and as a result you will need to spend some time finding what you need. It will be there, but it won’t know you are looking for it!
People who say, “There is nothing on the Internet about my topic,” are often those who sit down in front of the computer, type one phrase into one search engine and find nothing relevant. If you are willing to spend time looking around, however, you will almost certainly be well rewarded.
How do I know that what I find is any good?
With a little experience you will be able to find relevant articles, checklists, examples, case studies, reports, discussions, on almost all aspects of the subject that you are studying, and be reasonably certain that you can confidently make good use of it, usually by adapting what you have found to your own needs.
Categories of Information on the Web
Before you begin searching, you first need a little understanding about how information is stored and accessed on the Web. There are basically three categories of information on the Web:
The Free, Visible Web. This category includes all the publicly mounted Web pages. These pages are indexed by search engines. To find information from this category, use a good search engine, such as Google or Yahoo.
The Free, Invisible Web. This category includes the contents of sites that provide their articles or information free to users, but that content may be accessible only by going directly to the site. In other words, search engines cannot index it. Some magazines, newspapers, reference works, and other sites are in this category. Many databases such as legal, medical, and financial are here, too. To find information from this category, you usually have to go to the appropriate database.
However, you can find these by searching using the well known engines such as Google and Yahoo.
Paid Databases. This category includes commercial (pay for access) databases that libraries subscribe to, containing scholarly journals, newspapers, court cases and the like. Providers like Lexis-Nexis, UMI Proquest, Infotrac, JSTOR and others are in this group. To find information from this category, you must have access to the database (through password) and search on the database directly.
Again, you can find most paid databases by searching using key words and phrases (see below). You will find that these subscriber/payment sites will be shown as well as the “free” sources.
Search Tool Types
Search tools fall into two main categories – but note that the major search sites combine most of the tools and techniques, and are regularly acquiring and integrating niche sites into their main site, – searching on Google, for example, now gives you access to most search tool mechanisms, and even some “competitor” sites, even though you are only searching Google.
Search Engines. A search engine consists of the interface you use to type in a query, an index of Web sites that the query is matched with, and a software program (called a spider or bot) that goes out on the Web and gets new sites for the index. The bot crawls the Web at certain intervals, in order to index new material. When you use a search engine, you are asking it to look in its index to find matches with the words you have typed in.
There are several hundred search engines, but they fall into a handful of types:
· Global. This type of engine, typified by Google, reads pages from all over the world in many languages. These engines now index more than a billion pages.
· Regional. Some search engines are limited geographically, sometimes to a specific country, but more usually now to a region.
· Targeted. These search engines limit themselves to one subject, like biography, medicine, graphics, art, fishing, and so forth.
· Reference. These provide information from a set of reference works, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Directories. Directories are categorized lists of sites picked out by human editors. Directory databases are therefore much smaller than those of search engines. However, the fact that the sites are hand-picked often means that you will find very high quality sites or articles in the results. Although its profile is constantly changing, Yahoo has good examples of Directories within its structure.
The Big Three
For our purposes, advising you as tutors to your business and management studies, we can safely say that the most useful site is Google, followed by Yahoo and Bing.
To find more – including many niche sites – go to http://www.ieaddons.com/gb/browsers/
For those of you new to internet searching for study purposes – and those of you who are frustrated by unsuccessful searches – here are some tips:
Search Words and Phrases
This is the key to successful searching. You need to use the most relevant subject/issue words and phrases, and, usually, add a simple word or phrase that targets types of articles/documents.
Here are some examples that use a very simple format – one that very experienced internet searchers have found to be highly effective – there are other, more complicated search formats, but those are mainly of use to professional researchers and for highly technical purposes..
managing teams+best practice
managing diversity+case study
profit and loss account+analysis+example
strategic planning+best practice
implementing strategy+case study
general motors+change+case study
If you use this format you will find many hundreds, if not thousands, of useful links.
There will, of course, be some junk – that’s the internet – but you will soon learn to ignore these and focus on the useful links.
Business Sector Information
If you are in need of general, background information about a particular business sector – such as Retail, Manufacturing, Construction, Charities – there are many sites and journals that can be found on the internet.
As an example, searching using industry report+construction will bring up many links to industry guides, journals, and reports on that particular sector. Many will, of course, refer to subscription/payment sites, but some will be free, or at least offer summaries for free download.
For your studies with BSBM it is not necessary for you to gain access to subscriber-payment sites. The supplementary study information you need for any of our courses can be found without needing to pay for it.
Many articles from business journals can be found on the internet, but are usually from the journal’s own subscriber-payment site. We do not recommend that you pay for access purely for the purposes of your studies with us.
However, one or two relevant sector-specific journals can be of immense value to your general knowledge and understanding of current issues in your sector, and we recommend that you explore these sources for that reason.
Beware ! Warning !
Because this information is so important, we have placed it as a separate article.
There are many dangers in using the internet – in our context for two main reasons:
one is that there is a considerable amount of easily found, attractively presented, but unedited and potentially unreliable information
the other is that there are many sites which offer students ready-made responses to common study questions and assignments
Be very careful in using information from this site.
Most of it is reasonably accurate and can be used to add to your knowledge and understanding of business and management subjects and issues.
However, the content is not edited by content-specific experts, and most pages and the content on those pages can be altered by other readers-users who feel that their knowledge of a subject is better than that of the original contributor.
For working professionals who might use the information in their assignment work, or in their workplace decision making or general behaviour, this is a dangerous source of information.
Student Cheat Sites
There are many scores of websites that offer ready-made essays, articles, dissertations, assignment responses, for the mainstream courses and qualifications.
There are also subscription-payment sites where you can have an assignment answer or report written for you.
Do not use these.
Our tutors are familiar with these sites, and with the style of writing, and with the format of ready-made or written-for-you essays. We also use checking software that is regularly updated with text from the existing and new cheat sites.
If you use text from any of these sites your tutor will know and you will be removed from the course.
The reason for this is that using pre-written text or written-for-you text is cheating. The academic term is “plagiarism” but the reality is that this is blatant cheating and we cannot tolerate it.
More importantly in the longer term – if you are to learn, to gain knowledge and understanding that you can apply to your performance in the workplace, then you must be the one that learns, and you must be the one that writes your coursework, and you must be the one that absorbs and later makes use of what you have learned.
Evaluating Web Sources
Checking the Source
You can expect to find everything on the web: silly sites, hoaxes, frivolous and serious personal pages, commercials, reviews, articles, full-text documents, academic courses, scholarly papers, reference sources, and scientific reports.
How do you sort it all out?
Here’s some advice from the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Reading Web Addresses
First, you need to know how to read a web address, or URL (Universal Resource Locator). Let’s look at the URL for this tutorial:
Here’s what it all means:
“http” means hypertext transfer protocol and refers to the format used to transfer and deal with information
“www” stands for World Wide Web and is the general name for the host server that supports text, graphics, sound files, etc. (It is not an essential part of the address, and some sites choose not to use it)
“sc” is the second-level domain name and usually designates the server’s location, in this case, the University of South Carolina
“edu” is the top-level domain name (see below)
“beaufort” is the directory name
“library” is the sub-directory name
“pages” and “bones” are folder and sub-folder names
the second “bones” is the file name
“shtml” is the file type extension and, in this case, stands for “scripted hypertext mark-up language” (that’s the language the computer reads). The addition of the “s” indicates that the server will scan the page for commands that require additional insertion before the page is sent to the user.
Only a small number of top-level domains were originally recognized, but this is changing. Here is a list of the domains that have been in operation for the past several years and are generally accepted by all:
.edu — educational site (usually a university or college)
.com — commercial business site
.gov — governmental/non-military site
.mil — military sites and agencies
.net — networks, internet service providers, organizations
.org — non-profit organizations and others
Recently the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted to accept additional new suffixes, which are already in operation or preparing to come into operation:
.aero — restricted use by air transportation industry
.biz — general use by businesses
.coop — restricted use by cooperatives
.info — general use by both commercial and non-commercial sites
.museum — restricted use by museums
.name — general use by individuals
.pro — restricted use by certified professionals and professional entities
and a range of unusual suffixes such as .ly (suitable for sites with a “play on words/meanings” name, and many others
Country Codes – such as .co.uk, .fr, .ru – for a list visit ISO’s list of Country Codes
You can tell a lot about the authenticity of a page by finding out all you can about its author/publisher.
Ask yourself – who is responsible for the page you are accessing? Is it a governmental agency or other official source? A university? A business, corporation or other commercial interest? An individual?
As a rule of thumb, you can generally rely on hostnames such as .GOV, .AC.UK, and .EDU to present accurate information.
The NET, ORG, MIL, and COM domains are more likely to host pages with their own personal or organizational agendas and might require additional verification.
Some of the more recent suffixes are used only by organisations and professionals advertising their goods and services on the internet.
Checking Vital Information
A reputable Web page will usually provide you with the following information:
Last date page updated
Mail-to link for questions, comments
Name, address, telephone number, and email address of page owner
Now ask yourself this: If the page owner is not readily recognizable, does he provide you with credentials or some information on his sources or authority?
On the Web, each individual can be his/her own publisher, and many are. Don’t accept everything you read just because it’s printed on a web page. Unlike scholarly books and journal articles, web sites are seldom reviewed or refereed. It’s up to you to check for bias and to determine objectivity. Who sponsors the page? The Flat Earth Society? …. hhhhmmm …… Who is linking to the page, and what links to other pages does the page itself maintain?
Look to see if the page owner tells you when the page was last updated. Is the information current? Can it be verified at other, similar sites?
Try to distinguish between promotion, advertising, and serious content. This is getting to be more difficult, as an increasing number of pages must look to commercial support for their continuance.
Watch out for deliberate frauds and hoaxes. Some folks really enjoy playing games on the Web. Take a look at these two Web pages – one is a fraud.
https://www.neat-ideas.com/furniture/seating/specialist-and-miscellaneous-seating/kneeler-chairs/kneeling-chair-blue whitehouse.gov compared with www.whitehouse.org
Assessing Page Stability
There is no way to freeze a web page in time. Unlike the print world with its publication dates, editions, ISBN numbers, etc., web pages are fluid. There’s no bibliographic control on the Web.
The page you cite today may be altered or revised tomorrow, or it might disappear completely. The page owner might or might not acknowledge the changes and, if he relocates the page, might or might not leave a forwarding address.
Try to assess the stability of the pages you reference. Again, one of the best ways to do this is to look closely at the page sponsor, last date updated, and the authority of the author(s).
When you are writing a paper and using web pages as source material, keep a backup of what you find on the Web, (either as a printout or saved to disk) so that you can verify your sources later on if need be.
* for more advice in this style, visit the source of this article, at http://www.sc.edu/beaufort/library/pages/bones/lesson5.shtml
Talking with In-house Specialists and Senior Managers
One other highly valuable source of information – on how to manage, respond to, deal with, workplace issues and events, is your specialist colleagues and your senior managers.
These are experienced people – individuals and teams that have, most probably, faced most of the challenges that you are facing now, or will face in the future.
There will be some events and issues that have not been experienced before, but these will be rare ones.
Wherever you can, meet and talk with these people – they know what it feels like to experience an issue or problem, to face massive change, to try many responses until the one that worked was eventually found, to experience frustration and disappointment before finally achieving success.
Their experiences and their views are invaluable – make good use of them!
Buying or Borrowing Books
Today, for studying business and management subjects, it is usually much more productive to search for information on the internet, rather than books, as it is usually more up to date, varied, includes examples, case studies, a range of viewpoints, etc. and you can search and find information on any niche/aspect/segment, quite easily.
There are good books out there, but unless you decide that a particular subject is going to be a major area of interest (for example Finance if your career is Accounting, or Strategy if you are leading an organisation, or Project Management if you are planning a career as a Project Manager – but see the PMI Body of Knowledge before you buy a book!) then we would advise you to learn from the core materials that we send, and websites, and colleagues, as described above
Some of your study subjects might – might – justify buying books for, but only if you are really interested in learning more about that particular subject – and will remain interested for a while – for example Business Strategy, or Business Ethics, or Quality Management … then consider buying some.
We are not anti-business-book – all of our tutors have bought, and read, many of them – but if we were studying now we probably wouldn’t have bought 80% of them, because of the internet being such a good source of information.
* for relevant books that you might buy or borrow, see the list at the end of each module of your core materials, and-or the books recommended by your professional association-institute
Study Resources of the Month
As this issue is focused on searching for information – here are some recommendations related to that topic:
Hock – The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher (Information Today, 2010) ISBN: 0910965846
Bell – Librarian’s Guide to Online Searching (Libraries Unlimited, 2009) ISBN: 1591587638
Clegg – Studying Using the Web: The Student’s Guide to Using the Ultimate Information Resource (Routledge, 2006) ISBN: 0415403723
Student Recommended Resources
“…. www.mindtools.com …. know it’s mentioned a lot, but it’s so good!..” – our thanks to Ahmed
“…… www.about.com … covers such a wide range of subjects ….” – our thanks to Regina
Quotes from the Gurus
“What enables the enlightened rulers and good generals to conquer the enemy at every move and achieve extraordinary success – is foreknowledge” – Sun Tzu, Chinese warlord and strategist
“Without curiosity, you cannot learn well” – Ancient Hindi saying
“Knowledge is power” – Sir Francis Bacon 1561-1626, philosopher, statesman, essayist and scientist
“ Beware of false knowledge – it is more dangerous than ignorance” – George Bernard Shaw, playwright and philosopher
“As a rule, he or she who has the most information will have the greatest success in life.” – Disraeli, UK Prime Minister in the century before computers and the internet
“There are four kinds of people, three of which are to be avoided and the fourth cultivated: those who don’t know that they don’t know; those who know that they don’t know; those who don’t know that they know; and those who know that they know” – Arab proverb
Useful Study Links
Each of the websites listed here have a range of articles, reports, case studies, discussions, best practice checklists, and links to other sites www.library.ubc.ca/
university guide to searching and finding information on the internet informationmanagementresearch.blogspot.com
has many useful articles, particularly about Information Management
City of London university guide to finding information on the internet
large numbers of articles on business and management study techniques
masses of articles and reports on management issues