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Other Corporate Blogs: Bad Source for Research Project?

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Hello,

I was wondering whether blogs (especially corporate blogs) are good source for research. In some cases, such websites give me facts that hardly found elsewhere. However, when used as research source, corporate blogs can present problems:
  • there is no way to know the credibility and expertise of authors of blog
  • there are chances whatever facts and information on the blog are tilted in favor of their company's product (information bias)
Based on above, should I use corporate blogs as serious source for my research?

Regards, Bagas
 

CrysPhys

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Research on what?
 
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Research on what?
CrysPhys, I'm considering adding corporate blogs to source for all scientific research.
 
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You have to be kidding me!

Zz.
Probably you didn't look the context of original post or just top-posting.
 

ZapperZ

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Probably you didn't look the context of original post or just top-posting.
This is short thread. I read the whole thing. And I still find it very difficult that you are seriously even considering this.

Question: how much "scientific research" have you done and published?

Zz.
 
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I'm not sure why everyone is being snarky when you are new to science research. No, corporate blogs aren't a good source for research - stick to peer-reviewed publications in journals :)
 

Dr. Courtney

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I tend to understand most material in corporate blogs (or elsewhere on corporate web sites) as "marketing claims" for the company's products. When I've cited "marketing claims" in my own scientific papers, I usually do it in a context of evaluating whether those claims are true. For example, is the bullet drag or fishing line strength or instrument accuracy or rocket motor thrust as claimed by the manufacturer?

However, there are occasions where I have cited the "grey literature" for data that simply was not available in the peer-reviewed literature. (Most corporate publications can be considered grey literature). But before risking my reputation publishing material (including peer-reviewed papers) relying on data from the "grey literature" my colleagues and I carefully weighed the experiments and data they produced along with other uses, comments, and potential shortcomings and criticisms. In short, we reviewed the original experiments and reports with greater care and thoroughness than often received in route to publication in peer-reviewed journals.

If one is capable of such a thorough review of corporate material, AND if the data is accompanied by sufficient description of the original experiments, then use of corporate material can be productive for data that is not available elsewhere. (This is most common for product specifications and testing results.)
 

ZapperZ

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I tend to understand most material in corporate blogs (or elsewhere on corporate web sites) as "marketing claims" for the company's products. When I've cited "marketing claims" in my own scientific papers, I usually do it in a context of evaluating whether those claims are true. For example, is the bullet drag or fishing line strength or instrument accuracy or rocket motor thrust as claimed by the manufacturer?

However, there are occasions where I have cited the "grey literature" for data that simply was not available in the peer-reviewed literature. (Most corporate publications can be considered grey literature). But before risking my reputation publishing material (including peer-reviewed papers) relying on data from the "grey literature" my colleagues and I carefully weighed the experiments and data they produced along with other uses, comments, and potential shortcomings and criticisms. In short, we reviewed the original experiments and reports with greater care and thoroughness than often received in route to publication in peer-reviewed journals.

If one is capable of such a thorough review of corporate material, AND if the data is accompanied by sufficient description of the original experiments, then use of corporate material can be productive for data that is not available elsewhere. (This is most common for product specifications and testing results.)
But "corporate blogs" are not a permanent documents. They CHANGE, or can be changed over time, or even deleted completely.

I know. I've worked with or are familiar with SBIR companies that put out their "blogs" about some of the stuff they have accomplished. These get changed more frequently than you think, and then at some point, they might be removed. These are not what I consider as valid references in any shape or form. Documents referring to them will be left hanging.

Zz.
 

Dr. Courtney

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But "corporate blogs" are not a permanent documents. They CHANGE, or can be changed over time, or even deleted completely.

I know. I've worked with or are familiar with SBIR companies that put out their "blogs" about some of the stuff they have accomplished. These get changed more frequently than you think, and then at some point, they might be removed. These are not what I consider as valid references in any shape or form. Documents referring to them will be left hanging.
Standard operating procedure for citing web sites is to include the date is was accessed. For material subject to change (like blogs), there are steps that can be taken to create a permanent copy of the version that was cited and include a link to that permanent copy rather than to the changeable original.

My experience is that the issue of cited material becoming unavailable can occur irrespective of whether material is in the grey literature or peer-reviewed. Once a book or journal is out of print, the availability of material often gradually decreases over time. More than once, I've had to email a pdf to readers of my papers searching diligently for a specific citation and unable to find it since the original source was out of print.
 

ZapperZ

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My experience is that the issue of cited material becoming unavailable can occur irrespective of whether material is in the grey literature or peer-reviewed. Once a book or journal is out of print, the availability of material often gradually decreases over time. More than once, I've had to email a pdf to readers of my papers searching diligently for a specific citation and unable to find it since the original source was out of print.
But the source is still there, in its original form, just difficult to get. But this is no longer true in this day and age where peer-reviewed material have been archived in electronic form, which is the whole point of all this, i.e. preserving the original source for permanent reference.

Blogs, and corporate blogs, never made that type of promise, implicit or otherwise.

Zz.
 

Dr. Courtney

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But the source is still there, in its original form, just difficult to get. But this is no longer true in this day and age where peer-reviewed material have been archived in electronic form, which is the whole point of all this, i.e. preserving the original source for permanent reference.

Blogs, and corporate blogs, never made that type of promise, implicit or otherwise.

Zz.
Often the point of citing a source is to give due credit for ideas and data underlying a current scientific work. The need of citing sources is a foundation of scientific publishing and does not depend on whether the source is likely to be preserved for perpetuity. Failing to cite a source simply because it was a blog of corporate web site would be a breach of scientific ethics if the source was relied upon for ideas or data in a current work. I would hate to proffer the excuse that "it was only a blog" in the face of allegations relating to data use or borrowing words or ideas.

For example, colleagues and I cited this corporate web site:
as the source for our data for this (peer-reviewed) scientific paper:

Essentially, the corporate web site was used as the source of videos showing bullets impacting a substitute for ballistic gelatin, and we used the videos to test a manufacturer's claims that their product produced the same test results as 10% ballistic gelatin calibrated with the FBI protocol. We'd wanted to test these product claims for some time in our own ballistics lab, but we were able to accomplish the goal much more cost-effectively and with much less labor when the videos appeared on the corporate web site.

Before launching the project, we considered the experimental conditions, documentation, and video quality. The co-authors and other group members were in unanimous agreement that the quality of the videos was higher than we usually produced in our own lab (better high speed camera) and that the experiment was conducted with equivalent or better care than we would have used in our lab. The peer-reviewers also agreed that the original videos were adequate for our subsequent analysis and the conclusions we drew from them. Since publication, a number of readers in the community have commented on our paper, and there has not been a single suggestion that data from the videos was unreliable for the purposes of our paper.

I don't expect the corporation will maintain their web site indefinitely, but I have no regrets using the data.
 
Last edited:

symbolipoint

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Hello,

I was wondering whether blogs (especially corporate blogs) are good source for research. In some cases, such websites give me facts that hardly found elsewhere. However, when used as research source, corporate blogs can present problems:
  • there is no way to know the credibility and expertise of authors of blog
  • there are chances whatever facts and information on the blog are tilted in favor of their company's product (information bias)
Based on above, should I use corporate blogs as serious source for my research?

Regards, Bagas
NO! Companies doing business who conduct "research" ( or better called, "product development" ) will best keep their development activity to themselves, unless they are in the business of sharing openly with their competitors - something of such openness not being part of the character of the way business companies operate.
 

Dr. Courtney

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Having been a mentor, judge, and reviewer for dozens of student projects, my only form rule about student sources is reliability. Some scientists and judges have strong biases that certain types of sources (blogs, Wikipedia, etc.) cannot possibly be reliable. I try and be more open minded and inclined to look at the specific source myself to assess reliability and to ask the student doing the project, "How do you know this source is reliable for the way you have used it?"

Do you have a good answer to the question:
How do you know this source is reliable for the way you have used it?

Have you talked about the specific source with your mentor, research supervisor, or adviser? Do they think it is reliable for its intended use?

In spite of negative comments above, scientists do tend to view corporate web sites as reliable sources for what the company says about their own products, and in many cases as reliable sources for things like product specifications, especially for scientific instruments. Want to know the purported accuracy of an electronic balance or an FT-IR spectrometer? Google it up at the company web site. In contrast, claimed health benefits of dietary supplements are likely to be less reliable.
 
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view corporate web sites as reliable sources for what the company says about their own products, and in many cases as reliable sources for things like product specifications
Well, yes and no. We get material certs with products purchased from vendors, but we still do some testing ourselves. Trust, but verify...

There was an outfit in New Jersey maybe 15-20 years ago that was selling pipe and fittings with entirely phoney paperwork... Complete crap material that had to be tracked down and cut out of power plants.

Want to know the purported accuracy of an electronic balance or an FT-IR spectrometer? Google it up at the company web site
I agree, something like that is probably OK.
 

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