How to write up your analysis (Part 2)

November 16, 2012

Continuing on writing up your analysis, remember that even if you will be the ultimate beneficiary, or the only beneficiary, of your intelligence research and analysis, write it up at some point – the sooner the later.

Why?  Because you may have to refer back to it one day and your memory, anyone’s memory, is imperfect.  What you clearly remember as being the result of your research and analysis may not be exactly complete and correct.  In fact, over time, it is almost a guarantee that your recollection will vary widely from reality.

So when you write up what you just found, write it up either (A) as if you were writing it up for a third person, or (B) write it up for your own consumption. In either case, make sure that you indicate the sources of each key finding, at least in shorthand basis.  Just listing a set of resources, ranging from a homepage, a LinkedIn profile, and Facebook page to telephone interviews and product samples is not enough.  For you to make sense of your own analysis if there were a question, you would have to redo the research.  Your purpose here is to avoid doing that; it is to make your research useful to you in the future, and if necessary, defensible to those who might directly or indirectly challenge it.

If you are a note taker, save your work notes, at least for short period of time.  Save them electronically, save them in a folder, but save the critical elements.  Also put a delete or destroy date on these to want to avoid being a mere data collector.  No matter how much space you have in your computer, putting more files there merely makes it run searches slower.  In addition, there is no reason to keep these notes after a reasonable time, say 90 days, has passed.  At that point, even if your research and analysis was complete and correct at the time, it is likely you would have to redo at least a part of it now to bring it up-to-date.  So do not encumber yourself with unnecessary files and notes.

One Comment on “How to write up your analysis (Part 2)”

  1. […] Continuing on this thread, the next step is to decide what to do with what you have written. Well, first, find out what your company’s records retention requirements are. Particularly, how long do you have to keep the report – and, more importantly, your work notes and materials? Where do you keep them? Why? Then adhere to them. […]

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