BUS 360W Summer 2022 - Research Guide.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Topic-specific help
- 3 The research process
- 4 General research tips
- 5 Get help
- This guide is intended to help with the research you will need to do for your Business 360W (Business Communication) report. Start with the resources and search suggestions below. If you don't find the answer you need, consult the Getting help section for ways to contact someone in the Library for more assistance.
- Finally (and most importantly), this is your guide. Feel free to add to it (and fix the typos!) anytime. Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software if you're new to such things.
- Smart Cities - Burnaby (Christie-Bell)
The research process
Choose a research question
- Done for you! Your instructor has created some detailed cases for you to choose from. This means you don't need to spend days trying to find a perfect topic! Sometimes having fewer choices is good...
Think of some sub-questions
- What would your hypothetical manager need to know about the topic to make a good decision? Perhaps relevant costs, legal issues, and organizational behaviour implications to start?
- Your instructor has done part of the work for you on this step as well: they've provided a list of points you might want to address in your report. However, you may be able to think of other things that would help your manager make a better-informed decision. Remember that a major part of communicating well is thinking of your readers: What do they need to know?
Identify likely publishers
- Now that you know what you need to find, you need to think about who the most likely Publishers might be. Going directly to a publisher for your facts can be much more efficient than doing broad searches in a database and might allow you to skip the next step for some of your sub-questions.
Choose a database
- Business Source Complete
- Our main source for articles in business journals and magazines.
- CBCA Fulltext Business
- The first place to try for articles in Canadian business magazines.
- Canadian Newsstream
- Fulltext articles from many Canadian newspapers. A great starting point for your research regardless of the topic.
- Tool that makes it much simpler to access and use statistics on topics relevant to business, media, public policy, health and a wide variety of other subjects.
- More business and general news from around the world!
- Don't forget books! The depth and breadth of a book (or ebook) can't be beaten by a short article or web site.
- Academic Search Premier
- Cover many academic journals in all subject areas, as well as thousands of popular magazines. Not business-focused, but still often useful.
- Yes, Google is a database too. The majority of the free information that you'll get via Google isn't in journals or magazines, so don't forget to evaluate your Google results with extra diligence. You should still search in the subscription databases provided to you by the SFU Library (the ones above) to get articles from journals, etc. Especially consider using Canadian Newsstream and Factiva to find articles that mention specific organisations or reports. With all that in mind, a well-planned Google search could still unearth some useful information from sources like governments and associations.
Search and cycle your search
I'm also assuming that you will know how to be more efficient by using the first few relevant items you find to find other useful items. That is, I expect that you will know how to cycle your search using the subject headings, the author's name, and the bibliography.
The main suggestion that I would add for this class is that you should pay special attention to any named experts or organisations within the text of any article or site you've found, then look for more articles or sites that mention that expert/organisation. Since you will often be working with non-academic sources, you don't have bibliographies to work with. Instead, you need to look for such clues about related material within the text of the article. That is, you need to cycle your search using more than just subjects and bibliographies.
For instance, while researching business continuity planning in Canadian Newsstream, I came across an article with the title "Disaster now a booming business." Someone from an organisation called the Disaster Recovery Institute is quoted in this article. A quick Google search gets us their website, complete with links to other resources. Another quick search in Canadian Newsstream finds other articles that mention this organisation.
But wait... there's more! Check out this short video on a key research skill for BUS 360W cases: Actions vs Words: Understanding a Company's Strategies Using News Sources.
Evaluate your results
NEW! Watch this short video to learn more about secondary research: Secondary Research for Business Decisions. As you'll see, the information you gather through this sort of research is imperfect by definition, which means that careful evaluation is very important.
- Evaluating the resources you find can be particularly difficult for this course: much of the information you find will be in non-academic publications (magazines, newspapers, web sites, etc.), and almost all of it will be only partially relevant. That is the nature of all such secondary research -- the information was gathered and published for someone else's purposes, not yours, so it will be imperfect by definition.
- See Evaluation Tips for some discussion of to ensure that the resources you use are reliable, relevant, and recent enough for your hypothetical audience (and your real course instructor!).
- And see How to spot fake news: Identifying propaganda, satire, and false information for some tips on how to avoid getting tricked by fake news.
Write & present
- Business Presentations
- Resources at SFU and beyond to help you develop your presentation skills.
- Business Writing
- Lists of online and print handbooks, dictionaries, and thesauri for both business and general writing.
- SFU Learning Commons: Writing
- Includes PowerPoint presentations, detailed advice on each step in the writing process, links to resources at other universities, and much more. Remember that the Learning Commons also runs many workshops, including quite a few on writing skills.
- How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
- A short guide (with links to further guides, such as a great one by Cornell University) on the basics of annotated bibliographies.
- Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Learn when a citation is necessary using this online tutorial + quizzes.
- Cite your sources
- Get help formatting a reference or in-text APA citation.
General research tips
- Your manager (and your instructor) will expect your report to take the latest research into account. See the SFU Library's guide to Current Awareness Services and Tools to learn how to keep on top of new articles and web pages that might be published on your topic during the semester.
- You'll particularly want to set up an alert for relevant new articles in the many Canadian newspapers covered by Canadian Newsstream. To do so, follow these steps:
- Search for articles on your topic in Canadian Newsstream.
- Click on the Save Search/Alert then on Create Alert link above your results.
- Provide your email address as well as an alert frequency and duration.
- That's all!
- Some academic journals are more highly regarded than others. Mentioning the ranking of such journals may add weight to your argument. Check out Rankings of Scholarly Journals for tips on how to learn more about the journals you've been reading.
Public opinion polls
- For many topics, data from public opinion polls can be very useful. How many people report having used the Internet at work for non-work things? How many have had a workplace romance? What are CEO opinions on things like corporate social responsibility? Try the following sources for public opinion data.
- Ipsos News Centre - World (strong Canadian/US focus) data from Ipsos-Reid
- Angus Reid - Canadian polls
- InsightsWest - Western Canadian public opinion polls
- Public Opinion Research Reports - The Canadian government often commissions polls and focus groups on topics ranging from access issues for disabled employees to perceptions of organised crime.
- Managers might want to know about how employees might react to a new HR policy on your topic (although this will depend on the policy).
- If you can't find information explicitly on possible reactions to your specific topic, try imagining possible concerns employees might have and focusing on just those concerns in your research. For example, if you think that employees might have concerns about their privacy rights as a result of the new policy, then an article such as "The Impact of Individual Ethics on Reactions to Potentially Invasive HR Practices" (Journal of Business Ethics, October 2007, v75n2) might be of interest. (Also check out the newer articles that have cited that 2007 research.)
- And try looking for general books on personnel management to see if they have advice on how to get new policies accepted quickly, etc.
- Some sections of this class involve a group presentation. Start with our guide to Business Presentations for videos, books, articles, and sites aimed at helping both the very worried and the very experienced. Everyone has room for improvement when it comes to presentation skills.
- PowerPoint has a new resource available that provides data/feedback as you practice your presentation. Check it out here and see if it's useful as you prepare to present. Remember that practicing your presentation multiple times is vital for a confident delivery.
- Get help from the SFU Librarians via chat, email, or the phone using our Ask a Librarian services.
- Contact your business librarian via email. My contact info, as well as details on what information to provide in your question to get the fastest possible answer are on my profile page: Mark Bodnar (Burnaby & Surrey).
- Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software if you are trying to add a resource for others in your class to consider.