This slideshowpage is to help you write the section of a business report on how you
collected your data. This section can be called the Method, the Methodology, or the Procedure.
On this page: Explanation,
This section of the report tells your reader how, when and from whom you collected the data
for your report. The results of this investigation are given in the next
section: the Findings.
- The section should convince the reader that the data is accurate, and is
therefore suitable for making recommendations.
- The data collection should be valid, which means that it should really measure
what it is trying to measure. For example, the data should not be only from one group of people who do not
- The data collection should be reliable: that is, if the same data was
collected by another person, the result should be the same.
- When the data was collected:
e.g. Data for this report were gathered from
- How the data was collected
e.g. By observation, survey (a written questionnaire, or a researcher asking
the same questions to everybody), a vote, or research online or in a library.
- From surveys, interviews and focus groups:
- Who the data was collected from:
e.g. a random sample, or a specially-selected group of people, or all the
- How many people were involved; e.g. how many questionnaires did you send out,
how many were completed and used for analysis. Sometimes the return rate
can be low: you might send out 100 questionnaires, and get back only 20. The
return rate would therefore be 20%. This should be mentioned in the report, as it
affects its reliability.
- Generally uses passive voice:
This is to show that the results are objective
e.g. The questionnaires were distributed to a
total of 180 staff
- Generally uses past tense.
This is because the data was collected in the past, before the report was
- Data - singular or plural?
Data can be singular or plural: both 'The data was collected...'
and 'The date were collected...' are acceptable. For more information,
see the etymology at
- Matching Nouns and Verbs for Reports
- an exercise in choosing the right vocabulary for reports.
- People who reply to a written questionnaire are called respondents
- People who take part in an experiment, and are experimented on, are called
- Business reports are often about staff. More information about how to use
the word staff
correctly is available.
Style and Tone
- This section should be formal.
- Like most formal business writing, it should be clear, concise, and
- This section usually comes after the Introduction and before the Findings,
although sometimes it is part of the Introduction.
- The section should not give the results, unless the results of the first
data collection affected the method in which later data was collected; e.g.
The first data collection was a questionnaire, but you decided to investigate
why the people gave the answers they did, and therefore you did some
interviews to collect more data.
Data for this report were gathered from
questionnaire survey was carried out from
The questionnaires were
distributed to a total of 180 staff, consisting of 60 staff at senior level
and 120 staff of junior level.
Staff representatives from both senior and junior levels were interviewed from
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hits since 8 January 2008.