Chapter 5: Presentation Organization

33 Research

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The foundational way to offer support for the points you make in your speech is by providing evidence from other sources, which you will find by doing research.

You have access to many sources of information: books in print or electronic format, internet webpages, journal articles in databases, and information from direct, primary sources through surveys and interviews. With so many sources, information literacy is a vital skill for business professionals.

The term “research” is a broad one, for which the Merriam-Webster dictionary offers two basic definitions: studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. The more applicable meaning for this chapter is the collecting of information about a particular subject. The first definition given refers, appropriately, to primary research, which depends on primary sources. The term “primary source” means that the material is first-hand, or straight from the source, so to speak.

Primary sources: information that is first-hand or straight from the source; information that is unfiltered by interpretation or editing.

Secondary sources: information that is not directly from the source; information that has been compiled, filtered, edited, or interpreted in some way.

Journalists, historians, biologists, chemists, psychologists, sociologists, and others conduct primary research, which is part of achieving a doctorate in one’s field and adding to what is called “the knowledge base.”

For your presentations, you might use primary sources as well. Let’s say you want to do a persuasive presentation to convince the public to wear their seatbelts. Some of the basic information you might need to do this is: how many people in the class don’t wear seatbelts regularly, and why they choose not to.

You could conduct primary research and conduct a survey to determine if people in your town or city wear their seatbelts and, if not, why not. This way, you are getting information directly from a primary source. It is possible that you will access published primary sources in your research for your presentation (and you will definitely do so as you progress in your discipline). Additionally, and more commonly, you will use secondary sources, which are articles, books, and websites that are compilations or interpretations of the primary sources.

As you prepare your presentations, your employer or audience may have specific requirements for your sources. He or she might require a mix of sources in different formats. It is important that you note where you found your information in your presentation – a process called citation, or referencing.

Whenever possible, seek out original sources for the information you will use — for example, if you are using statistics about the amount of steel produced in Canada per year, you would collect that information from Statistics Canada. The next-best option is to find sources that are considered trustworthy: academic journals, books, well-known newspapers and magazines, and certain organizations.

College Libraries Ontario’s Learning Portal ( ) has a comprehensive guide on how to do research, along with tips on how to evaluate the quality of your sources.


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