Human beings have organized themselves into groups since the beginning of time – or at least since two or three sat around the fire and realized they shared a common interest. Today, organizations like the American Medical Association, the Society of American Florists, and the National Video Game Association provide their members a forum for networking, information-exchange, professional development, even prestige.
But why should non-members – say, students and other researchers – care about professional societies, associations, and other groups? Because these organizations are information powerhouses! As I’ve said before, if you can think of a topic, someone, somewhere, has probably made a career of it. This means an organization has more than likely sprung up to serve those professionals. And this means a targeted, ready-made knowledge-base is yours for the asking. You just have to remember to ask!
Pinpoint the appropriate organization and tap into its resources and you’ll be able to find:
- In-depth background and history of a particular field. Many societies publish timelines illustrating key milestones and discoveries.
- Published reports and statistics – on topics ranging from members’ political views to annual salaries.
- Cutting-edge research published in the society’s own journal or conference proceedings.
- Leading experts in the field. Whether they serve on a society’s board of directors or as editorial advisors, members are often willing to share their knowledge with intellectually curious researchers! Just be sure to formulate your questions carefully before approaching an expert.
To find professional organizations, Scholar’s Secret recommends searching the Associations Unlimited database (freely available to IMCPL cardholders via iLibrary) or consulting the Encyclopedia of Associations at the local library. You can also add one of these keywords to your topic search in Google: society, association, academy, federation, league, union.
Finding ordinary and extraordinary resources to meet researchers’ needs is Scholar’s Secret’s specialty. Contact us the next time you need help!