Ideas and solutions are taken more seriously if they are backed by relevant research

Problems will often be above our previous experience and knowledge. It is still possible for us to propose solutions, but we will need to look for information and wisdom from other people’s experience and this is called research.

Also, given that solutions at work may not always be entirely wrong or right, the arguments you use in support of your suggestion will make the difference. The end solution will depend on the risks it poses and the benefits it creates, so you can strengthen your suggestions with thorough research that informs decision makers about these risks and returns on investment.

We’ll look at primary and secondary research and how these can help you propose more relevant solutions. 

Primary Research

Primary research is directly done with test subjects (i.e..conducting surveys or interviews, observations, or focus groups with people relevant to the problem and solution at hand) and it refers to research that has involved the collection of original data specific to a particular research project. When doing primary research, the researcher gathers information first-hand rather than relying on available information in databases and other publications. 

Secondary Research Using Google

While primary research involves active participation from the researcher themselves, secondary research for work is mostly done online or through previous data existing in the company and it involves the summary or synthesis of data and literature that has been organised and published by others. When doing secondary research, researchers use and analyse data from primary research sources.

Most often for small to medium tasks we would conduct secondary research. Primary research is more demanding in terms of resources, so it is used for larger projects like creating or validating a new product, branding a company or a product, and other tasks of such high importance.

With information easily and generously available online for secondary or desk research, we need to know we can ensure our research yields valid points to back up our ideas.

In this digital age, any type of information is at the tip of your fingers. You are able to swipe your way through Google to find the solutions to your problems, without much trouble.

However, the issue of the validity of the knowledge provided on the internet is to be considered. It could simply be factually wrong, yet presented as true (i.e.. fake news). It could be of poor quality due to the ability of the content creator (i.e.. Research papers in online journals that only if read thoroughly you see that the research was done with less than 10 people so not holding much weight.). Or it could be culturally biassed or skewed (i.e..We could learn that it is normal to shake hands with an opposite gender, but not be aware that some cultures actually practise the opposite, which can lead to professional conflicts at work.).

We have to be informed that the writings and media on the internet can be in different categories such as opinions, facts, assumptions or even slander. Therefore, we must have an inner system to filter through and ensure that our research is proper and valid. 

Here are 5 ways to improve the validity of your research:


Google search engine uses each word as a tag. Any information piece out on the internet that carries a similar tag with yours will be in your search results. You don’t have to write grammatically correct sentences in order to narrow your search – you simply type any words that you think are related to your search.

For example, you want to learn about bisons. But, you forgot the name of this animal and you only remember how it looks. You can type ‘buffalo animal winter lots of hair’ to screen through to find the one you think is the animal you are looking for.


When we imagine Google search, we are likely to imagine the lines of texts on the search result page. At times, what you search might not be text-based, but in different formats. For instance, if you are looking for samples of brochure design, you would want your search results to be images. 

There are 4 main types of format that you can switch to which are All, Images, News, Videos and Shopping. In the case of our previous example, if All doesn’t help you to remember the animal that you’re looking for is a bison, simply click Images to make it easier to spot.It is similar for people who are looking for designs or templates – resume template, birthday card design, etc.


Exploring your answers through Google search can lead you down the rabbit hole of more and more information. You need the right words to ensure your search is on track as well as leading to relevant knowledge.

For example, you want to know what a director does and you type “What does a director do?”. Your search would just end up with a job description. To let you know more about the director position. Include in your search words such as: Types, purposes, roles, origin, categories, proof, ways, how to, benefits, meaning, definition, scientific explanation etc..


With the online and offline world being open to put forth anyone’s thoughts, claims, perspectives, etc., we are open to such a diverse nature of information, that is both good and risky at the same time. The risk refers to finding information that supports whatever your opinion is, without giving a balanced perspective and both pros and cons. If you think working-from-home is bad, you can type ‘working-from-home is bad’ in Google and you will get all the allies you need to confirm this.

This is a biassed approach as you are only venturing into information that agrees with your thoughts. Minimise this biasness through searching the two extremes of a topic. You can balance out your search of ‘working-from-home is bad’ with ‘working-from-home is good’ or using more neutral search words like “efficiency of working from home”. Reading from both sides of the topic will allow you to come to a more realistic and objective conclusion.


At work, whenever you are proposing an idea or justifying it, you will need points that will back you up. The process of standing up to an idea is about explaining how it would work. This process requires you to research strongly relevant information, thus you will need a way to measure the validity of your research output.

Let’s take an issue on the demand of working-from-home. There are 4 aspects in determining the strength of your research information:

i. Format – compared to articles and blogs, you want to prioritise research papers, journals, company annual reports, statistics, surveys and case studies.

ii. Source – the more credible the source, the better. Such websites can be Forbes, Harvard Business Review while for research papers, it can be from credible organisations such as Oxford University or if locally, Universiti Malaya.

iii. Locality – Despite working-from-home being a global phenomenon, how would it be here in Malaysia? Especially the area that you are researching about. You want to make sure the research or survey conducted is nearest to your location of interest. iv. Recency – A journal or findings on the internet could be outdated. As the world constantly changes, you want to ensure you are looking at the latest possible coverage for your topic. A study about working-from-home dating back in 2002 would be very disconnected from the current practice.

iv. Recency – A journal or findings on the internet could be outdated. As the world constantly changes, you want to ensure you are looking at the latest possible coverage for your topic. A study about working-from-home dating back in 2002 would be very disconnected from the current practice.