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Identify Your Potential Sources
Now that you have the questions in hand, you are ready to start thinking about
the best places to find your answers. The ease with which you can retrieve information
by surfing the Internet makes it tempting to use the Internet exclusively
as the source for all of your information. Don’
Relying only on the Internet means you’ll miss out on a diversity of material
that can enhance your work and your relationship with clients. On the following
pages, we’ll suggest many places find information. Once you know
about these possibilities and take advantage of them, you’ll be able to conduct
research that yields diverse points of view and many levels of information.
Basically, you need to know that there are two kinds of research:
• Primary (information you capture on your own)
• Secondary (information someone else has collected and written up)
Because primary research strategies and skills are more advanced, they are
covered at length on pages 166–170. For now, we’ll assume you’re new to
research, and are more likely to go with secondary sources.
Secondary research is the “prepackaged” kind—information that is already
written on the Internet and in annual reports, newsletters, and other promotional
literature. Articles and essays in trade journals, newspapers, and books
belong to this category as well. This information is readily available in the
library, at bookstores or in publishers’ catalogs, through subscriptions, and on
3. Vet Your Sources
Get into the habit of assessing the accuracy and credibility of every source you
find during your research. For example, be aware of the agendas (purpose and
mission) of book authors and journalists. Also, keep in mind that a major purpose
of annual reports is to assure stockholders that their investments are sound.
Even the most well-meaning report writers are likely to put a spin on their data.
You will come across as naïve or careless if you mindlessly repeat catchphrases
you’ve read in annual reports or other company promotional materials. Be a critical
reader of research literature by not taking everything you find at face value.
4. Take Notes for Your
There is no best practice for choosing record-keeping materials. Some people
prefer index cards. Others use notebooks or notepaper. Still, others enter rough
notes into word processing files. The important thing is to develop a consistent
format for entering the information. Design it in such a way that you know
where to find the same information on each card, page, or file. Write down: