Chapter 10: Introduction to the Research Process

Chapter Learning Outcomes

In this chapter you will:

  1. Describe the role that sources play in persuasion.
  2. Develop a research question.
  3. Narrow your research focus.
  4. Explore the types of sources you can use and where to find them.
  5. Identify effective survey and interview questions.
  6. Make a source plan.
  7. Evaluate sources for trustworthiness.

Workplace Context:

Using research in your reports always increases their persuasiveness, but the more important the decision to be made/ the higher the financial costs, the more substantial a research component you’d be expected to include. The same goes for situations in which you can anticipate some resistance to your ideas: providing evidence from a variety of sophisticated research sources (including academic studies) would increase your chances of presenting a persuasive argument.

In some situations, you’ll have a limited amount of time for your research — and prior knowledge of where to look for certain types of information would allow you to cover much more ground in the time you have. In other situations, some of the information you need might not be readily available, and you might have to use your critical thinking skills to find data directly relevant to similar contexts and use that information to make projections for your own context.

It’s also possible that, in some cases, you’ll start with an idea and keep finding evidence that seems to go against your initial intuition/ hypothesis. This can be discouraging, but there is value to this experience, too: your research might prevent you from pursuing a dead end and put you on the right track instead.

Finally, as far as student research projects are concerned, the most common research challenges we, as professors, routinely see are the following:

  1. Choosing a topic that is too broad for a relatively short research report and simply couldn’t be discussed effectively in, say, 10-12 pages. (Students who insist on working with an overly broad topic typically end up producing an elementary-level discussion that would be of no use to anyone in a business/ professional situation).
  2. Using the first 5-10 results the students get through a Google search as “research materials” for a report. (If your readers needed basic information from random online sources, they would spend half an hour doing the same search rather than have someone write a research report on company time.)

Before we begin, consider the following questions:

  1. Think about the last time that you did research. What kind of research did you do? Were you able to find all the sources you needed? If not, what kind of sources did you struggle to find?
  2. How do you use the internet when you research? What kind of sites do you visit? Why?
  3. What does academic integrity mean to you?
  4. How do you determine what sources to trust online?
  5. If you’ve also attended school in a different country, how does that school system teach source use?

Chapter Acknowledgements

This chapter has been adapted from the following text:

Business Writing For Everyone by Arley Cruthers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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Advanced Professional Communication Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ashman; Arley Cruthers; eCampusOntario; Ontario Business Faculty; and University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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