The search engine “Wikipedia” is an incredibly useful tool, for both the inquisitive public at large and product developers and inventors. Knowledge is power. And much of our success is based on exactly how much we DO know – about potential partners, licensees, manufacturing techniques, retailers, etc. Because we’re forced to do much of our own research, it’s important that we work as efficiently as possible. Wikipedia can help you do so.
Wikipedia is incredibly comprehensive. It’s unlikely that you are going to use the search engine for strictly academic purposes, and therefore, it is irrelevant that some of its entries may be questionable (as anyone can create a post). Conversely, Wikipedia is of benefit to you for this exact reason – its entries are current, constantly updated, and broad. Wikipedia entries are notably straightforward and simple. They can give you a brief but informative introduction to what would otherwise be a complex topic or process. These summaries may lead you to your next research questions.
Wikipedia also provides a wealth of other resources to continue gathering information – it provides sections under each entry titled “References” and “External Links”. If you haven’t found the information you need from the article, it is extremely likely you will do so now. For example, I searched “7/11 convenience stores”. Although the information I wanted wasn’t in the actual article, I clicked on the link “7/11 Global Sites Index” at the bottom of the page, and was transferred to a page that gave me exactly what I wanted. Wikipedia provides access to sites that you might otherwise spend countless hours trying to find.
There is little that isn’t on Wikipedia. Do yourself a favor and start your research here. It’s a tool I constantly use.