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Choosing Information Sources for Business Reports

Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

A business report serves the purpose of summarizing and analyzing a situation to come up with recommendations. The information contained in a business report is generally factual and employs the use of secondary sources to validate recommendations, as you'll learn about in this lesson.

What Is A Business Report?

When Jennifer was asked to look at the high turnover rate of employees and come up with a new plan for recruiting, she was really asked to prepare a business report. Business reports involve analyzing the current state, applying theories and coming up with alternative actions to get to the desired state. While preparing an objective-oriented business report may seem simple, keep in mind that a single problem may have several solutions. This means Jennifer will have to sift through mounds of secondary research, or research that has been conducted by another person for the purpose of solving the same or a similar problem.

So, where should Jennifer begin her search?

Sources of Information

The best place for Jennifer to begin her research is with a literature review. To decide which type of will work best for her issue, she should look for the most relevant and closely related information on the topic.

Some of the sources that may turn up in a literature review may include:

  • Industry journals
  • Scholarly journals
  • Annual reports
  • Government websites
  • Experts in the field
  • Competing company websites
  • Search engines

Given all of the choices, Jennifer may have hard time narrowing her search down to a few choices. Let's go over what she may find in each of the above sources, which can also serve as a way of identifying them.

  • Industry journals generally contain articles and information about issues and trends within a specific industry. Examples include Human Resources Management Review.
  • Scholarly journals are usually written by academic folks about issues that face business. The International Journal of Human Resources is just one example of a scholarly journal.
  • Annual reports typically contain financial information about the profitability of a specific company. Examples include government websites that provide information about the economic side of an industry, like the one for the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, or www.EEOC.gov.
  • Experts in the field often write articles about issues that others face but take on a more personal tone, such as those found on www.HMRConsulting.com.
  • Competing company websites provide insight into what a competitor is doing.
  • Search engines, like Google, allow you to perform research on the Internet.

Now that we understand where to find information, let's explore a few tips on how to use that information.

Using Sources

Once you compile the data you need to state your case, remember that much of this is secondary information. There are a few rules to follow:

  • Always cite your sources.
  • Paraphrase the information.
  • Remember that less is more - use only what you need to strengthen your argument.
  • Use a variety of sources in moderation.

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