Online use of external databases by Australian manufacturing companies has been growing rapidly since 1979. A survey of online users in some chemical and food companies found that in one‐third of the companies scientists and technologists performed searches. They did not search as many databases as the librarians in the other companies. They are, however, obtaining more information than before. All companies considered online searching cost effective, citing the rapid retrieval of information and the fact that searches need only be conducted when information is wanted, as evidence of cost‐effectiveness. Implications for manufacturing industry in Australia of current trends in the online industry are discussed and the potential of the new technology for equalising access to information among companies of all sizes is noted.
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