Research Business Writing

A useful technique when writing informative reports is researching. Once you have narrowed down the list of points you want to cover, you must figure out how to obtain the information you want to talk about. Researching is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, you absolutely must do a good job of it, but on the other hand, you must get information quickly so you can go on with your work day.

Watch the video and learn how to use the internet for research purposes:

My number one research tool is the Internet. I also use books and reference materials at one of the nearby university libraries. In addition, I’ll find other information in textbooks, newspapers, scholarly journals, and magazines.

Another good technique is to get information from subject matter experts. I talk more about this in the post, “Asking Questions.”

The Internet is a world unto itself. There is more material on any topic than you can ever read or listen to: web pages, blogs, PDF documents, ebooks (BEHQ format rather than e-book with a hyphen because Goodge uses it), video and audio, press releases, discussions lists and so on.

Four Important Techniques

You need to get good at these four techniques:

1. taking notes (I like to use standard or legal size paper and write with abbreviations, such as “&” for and, “#” for number, and “sth” for something … I often skip articles and use bullets to list ideas),

2. using direct and indirect quotes from a source (extremely important for illustrating and supporting the ideas you want to develop),

3. paraphrasing information in your own words (be sure to indicate the source of the original idea to avoid plagiarism – stealing ideas from others), and

4. summarizing the main ideas of your source (a key skill that requires you to synthesize and restate the essential ideas of text in your own words).

Evaluating sources

A key skill is being able to evaluate the truth of what you read.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

– the reputation of the author or the website
– a list of references or citations that lead to good sources
– the professional quality of the tone, style and level of information
– the nature of the information offered: fact, opinion or propaganda
– the date of the material – generally the more recent the better
– the truth of the information.

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