Researching Reports

(Researching Reports) covers the vital first steps in report writing. If the problem statement, purpose statement and research questions are poorly written in the initial stages of research (i.e. to vague, too broad), then your report will likely reflect the problems.
1) You must orient yourself to the overall final deliverable first.
2) Based on the given scenario, choose one of the options.  Next, think about what problem you are attempting to help your audience, the CEO, solve.  Now write your problem statement.  

  • Note: The Problem Statement is the overall question you want to answer in your report. Many students prefer to phrase the problem statement as a question, but you may make it a declarative statement if you wish.

3.) Next, write your purpose statement.

  • Note: The Purpose Statement is mainly a restatement of the problem, written as a goal statement.

4.) Write at least four (4) research questions.  Be sure to review the survey results for hints on what types of research question to ask.

  • Note: The Research Questions in an analytical business report serve as a guide for the entire report. Your research is conducted to answer the questions, which when answered will solve the stated problem (problem statement).
  • The research questions should be answered using BOTH primary and secondary sources, which you will cite in the report.  Human Resources has already provided primary data for you in the form of an employee survey (see the last Module).   Over the next week or two, you will perform secondary research (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles, government surveys evaluating the pros and cons of flexible schedules) to provide additional credibility to your report.

5.) Write a draft methodology section.  The methodology section should describe how primary data (i.e. the employee survey) was conducted and a rationale for identifying secondary sources (i.e. peer reviewed journal articles).  Be specific; stating you will perform an online search is not specific enough.
Assignment Example: You May Use the Example Below for Guidance
Written below is an example of what you would submit for this assignment. The scenario for this example is that Acme Hay wants to purchase a new fleet of trucks.  Research is necessary to determine whether to purchase Ford, Dodge, or Chevy trucks for its fleet. The problem and purpose statement examples, as well as the research questions, are based on that scenario.   Note that the headings are differentiated (bolded) from the main text an all major words in the headings are capitalized.
Problem Statement 
Should Acme Hay purchase Ford, Dodge, or Chevy trucks for its fleet of trucks?
Purpose Statement
The purpose of this report is to determine what brand of truck – Ford, Dodge, or Chevy – Acme Hay should purchase for its fleet of trucks.
Research Questions
1. Which trucks would employees prefer to driver?
2. What are the costs of the Ford, Dodge, and Chevy trucks?
3. What are the safety features of each brand of truck?
4. What are the evaluations of each brand of truck according to Consumer Reports and Car and Driver?
An anonymous employee survey (Appendix A) was conducted to assess employee preferences for truck brands.  Of the 100 employees, 85 responded to all the questions in the survey.  Incomplete surveys were not used in the data analysis.
The dealership websites of Ford, Dodge and Chevy were investigated to obtain an average cost for each type of vehicle.  Select dealerships were contacted by phone to assess if a discount was available in exchange for a bulk purchase of vehicles.
The safety features were evaluated using specified automotive journals and third party assessments.  Both Consumer Reports and Driver provided information on the safety and brand evaluations for each brand of truck.
Finally, a weighted checklist (Appendix B) of employee truck preference, safety record and brand evaluation was created to assist with data evaluation.

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