Research is an investigative process. The information and data necessary for the completion of a writing task is gathered in this step. The amount required will depend upon the document's primary objective, the breadth of its scope and its intended audience: the more complex your topic, the more in depth the research.
A letter or memo may require no more than a list of related ideas and your research may consist only of finding the name of the contact person to whom you are writing. A report or summary, on the other hand, may require something more. Before writing a report projecting the earnings-to-expense ratio for the coming year,for instance, you might want to meet with the accounting staff for a review of quarterly financials from previous years.
Regardless of the amount of research, the information you gather will fall into one of two categories. Depending upon the source, your information will be either primary or secondary. Depending upon your objective, scope and audience you may rely more heavily on one than the other.
Information gathered from multiple sources will provide the facts that substantiate and clarify your objective. As you identify relevant sources of information, include yourself. Personal experience counts. After all, among the credentials underscoring your involvement in the writing task are your background qualifications and your first-hand knowledge of the topic. Search your own personal resources. Check your own databases. Look in the file cabinet.
As your research progresses, compile notes, either on index cards or in a computer. Include what you already know about the subject and what remains to be discovered. Brainstorm with yourself and others. Ask lots of questions. Who, what, and where? When, how and why? Note your sources and double-check your facts. Accuracy is mandatory. The Writing Studio's Bibliography Tool allows you to take and organize your notes and sources.
Thorough research is the backbone of any successful business document. Once completed, you must organize your notes and prepare an outline that illustrates the manner in which your information will be presented in the written document.