One of the most sought after sources for business researchers are tables, graphs and charts. These are packed with hard data and make it easy to make comparisons, identify trends, and analyze the information quickly at a glance. They are particularly valuable for data oriented queries such as finding the number of customers, company rankings, import/ export data, spending data, sales figures, country rankings, market shares, or other research that can be answered with a visual data snapshot.
But how can you perform a search that zeroes in and retrieves just charts and graphs?
Many business librarians and other information professionals are familiar with RDS TableBase, a database of only tables, and charts. But TableBase, a product of Cengage/Gale can only be searched on high end subscription services like LexisNexis, or via Gale’s own online service. And TableBase has something of an uncertain future--Cengage told me that the file, which has been around for many, many, years, is currently undergoing enhancements. I hope it survives, as it has always been a unique and valuable business resource.
But there is also a strategy for quickly finding tables and charts on Google that I recently discovered when researching spending by baby boomers. It was an ideal research query for a chart or table, but simply adding the word “table” or “chart” to a Google keyword search would not be effective, since Google’s algorithm will return pages that contain one or both of those words, which may or may not be relevant or lead to an actual table or chart.
The secret? Use Google’s image search.
Since Google classifies tables and charts--when formatted as a jpeg, bmp or other image file, as they normally are-- as an “image”, to pull them up all you need to do is enter your search terms and then hit the “images” link. Here, for example, is what I found when I entered the keywords:
>>spending OR expenditures 2014 boomers OR age OR generation<<
(I also limited results to the past year, and then clicked the “images” link)
You can see above that the search brought back scores of data rich charts and graphs. Of course, the search terms themselves must be words that lend themselves to data likely to be displayed in a chart, table or graph, as in this example.
If you have other tips on finding charts, tables, and graphs from an open Web search, feel free to share them here!