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Although the library and the Internet of a wealth of authoritative
information in the workplace, you will often need to conduct primary
research because you need new information. There are several major categories of
primary research, observations and demonstrations, inspections, experiments, field research, interviews,
inquiries, and questionnaires. Observation and demonstration are two
common forms of primary research. When you observe,
you simply watch some activity to understand some specific
aspects of this activity. For instance, if you were trying to
determine whether the location of the break room was interfering
with work on the factory floor, you could observe the situation preferably
at different times of the day and in different days of the week. If you saw workers distracted by people
moving in and out of the room, or by sounds made in the room,
you would record your observations by taking notes, taking photos,
or shooting videos of events. An observation might lead to
other forms of primary research. You might, for example,
follow up by interviewing some employees who could help you
understand what you observed. When you witness a demonstration, you are
watching someone carrying out a process. For instance, if your company was
considering buying a mail sorting machine, you could arrange to visit
the manufacturers facility where technicians would
show how the machine works. If your company was considering a portable
machine such as a laptop computer, manufacturers or dealers could demo
their product of their facility. When you plan to observe visitation or
witness a demo, prepare beforehand. Write down the questions
you need to be answered or the factors you want to investigate. Prepare interview questions in case you
have a chance to speak with someone. Think about how you are going to
incorporate the information you acquire into the document you will write. Inspections are like observations,
but you participate more actively. For example, a civil engineer can
determine what causes a crack in a foundation by inspection by the site. Walking around, looking at the crack,
photographing it and its surrounding scene,
examining the soil, for example. Sometimes, inspection techniques
are more complicated. A civil engineer inspecting foundation
cracking might want to test his hatches by bringing soil samples
back to the lab for analysis. Learning to conduct the many
kinds of experiments used in the particular field
take months or even years. In many cases, conducting
an experiment involves four phases. Establishing a hypothesis,
testing the hypothesis, analyzing the data, and
reporting the data. Whereas an experiment
yields quantitative data, they typically can be measured precisely,
most film research is qualitative. That is, it yields data that typically
cannot be measured precisely. Often, in field research, you seek to
understand the quality of an experiment. Some kinds of studies have both
quantitative and qualitative elements. Interviews are extremely useful when
you need informational subjects that are too new to have been discussed
in the professional literature or are too narrow for widespread publication. In choosing a person to interview,
answer three questions. What questions do you want to answer? Who could provide this information? And is the person willing
to be interviewed? A useful alternative to a personal
interview is to send an inquiry. This inquiry can take the form
of a letter, email or a message sent through
an organization's website. Although digital inquiries
are more convenient for both the sender and the recipient,
a physical letter is more formal and therefore might be more appropriate if the
topic is important or relates to safety. Questionnaires enable you to solicit
information from a large group of people. You can send questionnaires
through the email, or email them, present them as forms on a website, or
use survey software such as SurveyMonkey. Unfortunately, questionnaires rarely yield completely satisfactory
results for three reasons. Some of the questions will misfire. Respondents will misinterpret some of your
questions, or supply useless answers. You won't obtain as many
responses as you want. The response rate will
almost never exceed 50%. It most cases,
it will be closer to 10% to 20%. You cannot be sure that
the respondents are representative. People who feel strongly about an issue
are much more likely to respond to questionnaires then those who do not. For this reason, you need to be
careful in drawing conclusions based on a small number of responses
you asked in your questionnaire. Ask effective questions,
use unbiased language and be specific, include an introductory
explanation with the questionnaire. This explanation should clearly indicate
who you are, why you are writing, what you plan to do with the information from the
questionnaire, and when you will need it. Before you send out any questionnaire,
show it and its accompanying explanation to a few people
who can help you identify any problems. After you have revised the material,
test them on people whose backgrounds are similar to
those of your intended respondents. To decide where and
how to present the data that you acquire from the questionnaire,
think about your audience and purpose. Start with this principle. Important information is presented and
analyzed in the body of your document, whereas less important information
is presented in an appendix. Most often, different versions of the same
information appear in both places. In technical writing, research reports are focused objective
inquiries into technical subjects. Private research refers to the actual work
done in the laboratory or in the field. In other words, this means the various experiments and
surveys done by an individual. In this type of report,
you present your data and draw questions about it, but
also explain the methodology and describe the equipment and facilities used
and give some background on the problem. A research report is used in scientific
writing to present the results of an experimental study. The core of the search report
is the materials, methods, and results of the study. In technical writing, these reports are specifically
geared to the purpose at hand. The readers who will use them,
the clients who will read them, and whatever limitations have been
placed on the scope of the project. Technical research reports
frequently focus on you evolving, sometimes purely
hypothetical technologies. In which case, they can be
called state of the art reports. In some cases, research reports
may focus on past technology. In which case,
they are called historical reports. One distinguishing characteristic
of research reports is the extensive research and
documentation required. The research may consist of library and
laboratory research, interviews, questionnaires, various types of
culprit technical reports, and trade journal articles. Also, research report writers increasingly use their wealth of information on
the Internet, unlike laboratory boards. However, research reports often do not involve doing
the actual research being reported. They frequently present the findings
of research that has already been done. The organization of a research
report is straight forward. However, what goes in the discussion
section depends on the topic and the specific requirements for
the research. If the purpose is to report on how you got
to where you are in developing a certain technology, the discussion
will be primarily historical. But if the purpose is to describe
new evolving technologies, the discussion may be geared
more to future implications. Introduction, the first section of
the research report is the introduction. It may provide some background, but not
more than a paragraph or two in a one or two page introduction. Start with the purpose statement to
explain why you are writing the report. Then you need to state the problem
that the report addresses. In the research report, note that
the problem is really more of a general background statement that
expands on the topic and gives a brief context for
what the report will investigate. Scope of this report,
in any research paper, you cannot possibly research anything or
everything about your topic. Human knowledge is not that simple or
easy and there is too much of it. So you will have to limit
your paper by including only certain aspects of your topic. To complete the introduction, provide a scope statement that
addresses this limitation. This section tells the readers what you
are including in the paper and why, and it articulates the rationale for
the limitations you are imposing. The background, in the background section,
discuss the theoretical and historical aspects of
the topic as appropriate. The background should start with
a brief discussion of theory because the theory may not be
common knowledge for the audience. Which is why the theory discussion is essential to understanding
the rest of the paper. The discussion section
is crucially important, this is the main section of the report. And it may include a brief
discussion of a device and its functional applications. Conclusion, this section
of the report normally summarizes the report and
may provide a recommendation. Any recommendation must be supported and justified by information
in the discussion section. References and appendix, include a list
of the references used in the report. Always list all the references that
were already cited in the report. As a courtesy to the reader, you can
also list sources that you consulted, but did not specifically use because these
sources may have influenced your thinking, or may provide additional information for
further exploration of the topic.

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