Research guidelines

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  • You will probably have to do your own market research. Professional research is often too expensive, and if your idea is still at concept stage there is a risk that other people will not fully understand it.
  • Universities are a possible source of low cost research assistance. For example, some departments may need real-life project material for their students. A problem is that students differ in ability, and so quality cannot be guaranteed.
  • All your research needs to look professional. This is important because at some point you may have to present your research to other professionals as part of a proposal for funding.
  • Use only reliable or first-hand sources of information, and record each source. Never do what some inventors do, and present as evidence a collection of articles from popular newspapers and magazines.
  • Consumer surveys may seem like a good idea, but many people say one thing to researchers and do the exact opposite later. Surveys may therefore be a poor guide to actual buying behaviour.
  • Do not trust the opinions of family and friends! Most will lie to you in order to avoid arguments, or because they do not want to hurt your feelings.
  • Do not ignore someone whose opinion is different from all the rest. That person may be the only one to identify a major weakness in your idea.

Free or cheap market information sources

  • Mainly the internet. Be careful though, as much of the data you find may be outdated or inaccurate.
  • Many academic and large public libraries have business information departments, staffed by helpful librarians with fact-finding expertise.
  • Use Espacenet to look at recent patent applications. This can give you clues about the products and technologies major companies may be working on.
  • Visit relevant trade fairs and exhibitions. Talk to people, find out who is doing what.

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