Step 3: Do research the smart way

Faye Turner

7 min Read Time | August 10th 2021

Key Takeaways


Start with the company you want to cover, look at which topics are covered or not, and then use online research tricks for successful research.


Make sure to use various sources, prioritising primary sources over secondary ones. Check the sources toolkit, and build your own list of favourite websites to use.


Verifying the credibility of sources is important. For this, make sure to question timeliness, accuracy, authority, relevance and purpose.

Glenn carstens peters npx X Wg Q33 ZQ unsplash

What is the issue?

Finding good sources can be a puzzle. This challenge can be broken down into two parts:

1) Finding the most useful sources (check our toolkit of recommended sources)

2) Verifying their credibility (more information here)

After reviewing thousands of analyses and checking tens of thousands of sources, we now have a pretty clear idea of how to go about it.

This article gives you the 4 simple steps to follow for effective and thorough research.

The 4 steps for conducting research

1/ Find a topic that interests you, provided by the Topic Selector.

Browse hundreds of available topics on a multitude of companies. All topics are available for the certification and reward.

2/ As a precautionary measure, go on the company’s page that you've chosen and see which topics are covered.

By doing so, you will notice the topics that have already been written about and avoid any duplicates, in case the Topic Seletor's algorithm has missed some.

3/ Do online research, the smart way

You now have an idea of which company you would like to cover, and perhaps a rough understanding of the topics of interest.

Now it is time to get proactive and to seek out information that is impact-worthy (i.e credible, relevant, accurate, objective… see more here on what makes a good source) while making sure that it is written (or can be translated) in English and the source is publicly available.

For this, we recommend:

  • Doing research in a private window.
  • Checking the news, while making sure “hot topics” are backed by tangible evidence of impact.
  • Searching for multiple associations between the company and the topic.
  • Using operators in your queries (OR, -, AND, “ “) for more precise results.
  • Not relying only on Google.
  • Mobilizing sources that may have various points of view on the impact.

For more information on online search tactics, you should check our dedicated post.

4/ Go for primary sources and not secondary ones

The source type is very important. There are several types of sources, but the two most common ones are primary and secondary. But what’s the difference?

Primary sources are as close to the origin of the information (immediate, authoritative), providing first-hand accounts of an event or time period. They are most frequently the first formal appearance of original research.


Interviews, official statistics, historical documents, studies, annual reports, etc.

Secondary sources are interpretations, summaries, or analyses of primary sources.


Articles, textbooks, magazines, reviews, blogs, etc.

You should always try to use primary sources, which are often more reliable and less distorted by opinions or interpretations.

If you follow these simple steps, you should soon become a maestro in research.

Feel free to add your own best practices and favourite sources in the comments section!


Based on the article you've just read, here are some more we think you'd be interested in.

8 Min read

9 Basic Steps to get Started as an Analyst

Pass your Analyst certification by following these 9 simple steps.

8 Min read

What makes a good source?

5 tips to assess the reliability of sources.

11 Min read

Toolkit of Useful Sources

8 Min read

Biodiversity Loss

Learn how to correctly analyse this topic.

6 Min read

Step 2: Choose a Relevant Topic

How to select a topic for your impact analysis

10 Min read

Step 4: Build a good structure

How should you structure your impact analysis.

7 Min read

How to use the Topic Selector

How to pick a topic that interests you and reserve it so no one else can write on it

World Green Background Sustainability small

Let’s take action together

With the right investment companies having a positive impact on the planet are able to flourish. Our community forms part of that mission by measuring their impact.

Join Us