What’s the bottom line on research? It is critically important – especially in an age where news is subjective, business filings can be suspect, and business executives are not always scrupulous, forthcoming, or honest. As a student, get into the habit making your writing trustworthy and credible – and you do that with research, sourcing, and attribution.
Business writing will usually require research, whether it is checking the statistics for your business, reviewing the strategic plan for future planning, or authoring a report on competitive edge. As a business student, make it a habit to do your research because research makes your writing more authentic, authoritative, and credible.
The natural result of research is sources – where you get your information. You may access the writing of experts in your field, white papers from organizations in your field that have a long-standing good reputation and credibility, or peer reviewed articles that help to validate your assumptions. Here are some tips for your research:
- Steer clear of blogs by random writers with no affiliation or expert track record.
- Do not use online information gathering sites like Wikipedia which anyone can post to.
- Carefully examine sources for bias for or against the topic, and do not use sources that your deem prejudicial.
- Use lateral reading as a strategy when .
- Use lateral reading as a strategy when using Google or Bing, for example, so you can find credible sources.
Once you have identified your sources, document them so you can correctly attribute the intellectual property of others. The American Psychological Association (APA) style guide is used across disciplines, including business, and is a very clear, efficient, and uniform way of formatting your writing. APA format is well-documented by a number of collegiate online writing labs, such as the one hosted by Purdue or Excelsior.
In the next exercise, you will find credible sources on a topic, identify whether it is authoritative or expert, and write the citation using APA format.
Not every source can be considered credible – authentic, trustworthy, believable. There is a plethora of incredible, or unbelievable, information floating around the Internet, and students should be able to sift through the junk to get to legitimate information sources. To do this, one must be able to evaluate each source for –
- Expertise (e.g., author is a known expert in the field);
- Authority (e.g., respected publication with long-standing reputation of objectivity and integrity);
- Bias (e.g., source does not lean one way or another, and present information objectively, without taking sides); and
- Authenticity (e.g., source is trustworthy, known for factual information gathering/dissemination).
There may be other factors to examine when evaluating sources, so do your due diligence to find information that supports your arguments, and then documenting those sources appropriately.