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Doing Research for Your Report

 

So, you’ve got a report to write, but how do you go about gathering together the information that you’re going to include? It can be quite a daunting task if you’ve never carried out comprehensive research before, so learning the most effective methods is a real bonus.

Getting Started

You can only start to carry out detailed research once you’ve decided what the aim and purpose of the report is. Once you know this, you can decide what information you are going to need to flesh it out. At this point, do not concern yourself with what will go into the final report – that comes later – just gather as much information as you can. Luckily, there are lots of places you can find information for your report, but the three main ones to try first are:

  1. Existing sources – why spend time conducting research that’s already available? Save yourself some time and use:

    a. previous reports on the same or similar topics

    b. business reference books, such as financial and industrial directories as well as statistical and scientific books. These will contain lots of useful information for you to include

    c. newspapers, magazines, periodicals and the internet. They are all great sources of information and often contain relevant articles and surveys that you can use. But if using the internet check the site is reliable and how often it is updated.

  2. Personal observations – talk and listen to experts or eyewitnesses, or anyone else who you think might be able to help you. Do remember to give people plenty of time to respond to your phone calls or emails as you don’t want to be harassing them as your completion date for the report approaches. However, if you include opinions and information from experts make sure you clearly state who that person is to avoid any confusion. You can often find useful contacts through organisations such as the Institute of Directors or the Chamber of Commerce. Of course, you also have to decide if the information you are being given is valid or not or if it could be affected by bias of some kind. Remember, opinion is not fact!

  3. Your own research – this can include experiments, questionnaires and surveys that you design and carry out yourself. If you do this, be sure to include your methodology, this means explaining how you carried out the research, how many people were asked, how long the research continued for and so on.

 

Do organise your information in a logical way, this way you can find things quickly and easily when they are needed.

Cost

Another point you need to keep in mind is the cost of carrying out the research. Generally, it is much more expensive to carry out your own research, so do bear this mind when making your decision.

So, there you have it – it’s not that hard really, just follow these basic rules and you’ll have the right amount of appropriate information for your report, each and every time!

If you’d like more information on delivering perfect presentations, why not have a look at the prospectus for our Report Writing Course.

  

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