Unit Five: Researching and Reporting
March 12 2012
How Do I begin my research?
- Focus your search: identify your objective, and draft a purpose statement.
- Draft a thesis or working purpose statement to clarify your objective.
o Narrows your research parameters
o Structures your document or presentation
o Becomes part of your document or presentation introduction.
- Include the situation and your rhetorical purposes.
How Can I find Information?
- Learn what resources are available, and how to use them.
- Databases of journals, periodicals, magazines and newspapers
How Can I search Efficiently?
- Use keyword searches.
- Thesaurus lists synonyms and the hierarchies that index information in various databases.
- Skim several of the first sources you find; if they use additional or different terms, search for these new terms as
- Refine your search:
o Use root words to find variations.
A root word such as stock followed by the plus sign (stock+) will yield stock, stocks, stock
o Use quotation marks for multi-word terms.
If you want only sites that use the term “business communication”, put quotes around the term.
o Use a Boolean search to get more specific hits.
For example, to study the effect of the minimum wage on employment in the restaurant
industry, you might specify: (Minimum wage) and (restaurant or fast food) and (employment
rate or unemployment)
o Use a variety of search engines; you can Google “search engine directories” for an apha list of search
engines and directions that can both widen and deepen your resources.
o Use all available resources. Search engines and databases offer search tips, topic browsing, advanced
searches and refined search topic phrases to help you navigate, and focus your search.
Also provide citation styles.
o Create an RSS (Really simple syndication) feed for the most current information available. RSS sends subscribers up-to-date news articles: you get all the latest news right away without
having to search the web.
Where else can I find information?
- Ask your reference librarian for research ideas, including print sources.
- Textbooks and on-file company information are useful sources.
- Primary research to get new information
- Use your own observations and experiences.
- Because it is not feasible to survey everyone, you select a sample.
- In a random sample, each person in the population theoretically has an equal chance of being chosen.
- True random samples rely on random-digit tables generated by computers and published in statistics texts.
- A convenience sample is a group of respondents who are easy to reach : students who walk through the student
centre, people at a shopping mall, etc.
- Useful for a rough pre-test of a questionnaire.
- A judgment sample is a group of people whose views seem useful.
- Someone interested in surveying the kinds of writing done on campus might ask each department for the name
of a faculty member who cares about writing and then send surveys to those.
- Often good for interviews, where your purpose is to talk to someone whose views are worth hearing.
How Do I decide whom to survey or interview?
- Use a random sample for surveys, if time and money permit. Use a judgment sample for interviews.
- The population is the group you want to make statements about.
- Defining your population correctly is crucial to getting useful information.
How Do I create surveys and write questions for interviews?
- Test your questions to make sure they’re clear and neutral.
- A survey questions a large group of people, called respondents or subjects.
- Create a questionnaire, a written list of questions that people will respond to. - Although survey and interview queries are based on your ideas and a theory – or working purpose statement –
it’s important to phrase questions in a way that won’t lead the respondent to the answer you want, or bias th