Why does it cost so much just to look on the Internet?”
I get this question a lot, and too often from “professionals” who should know better. I will list a few of the reasons here.
To begin with, I never know how the research results will be used in the future. That means that the results must be properly documented so that it would be reproducible if someone else with similar skill did the searches at the same time as I did.
If at some future date what I find becomes important evidence, then how it was found, where it was found, when it was found, and what it actually looked like becomes very important. My report and the supporting material may be the only proof of the existence of the material being entered into evidence.
The logic of the research process must be clear and easy to explain to anyone. This logic must be explained in the report. Search statements must be recorded. The project directory and file naming and structures must be logical and properly documented. The evidence must have a clear and documented chain of custody.
Providing this evidence requires skill, training, experience, software, computers, office space, support staff, and time. Finally, did you know it takes at least twice as long to do the report as it does to do the research?