Documentary Sources of Information in Research

The documentary source is an important source of information for a researcher. A document is anything in writing a record, files or diaries, published or unpublished which can be extracted and used in research. It is a very valuable source of information for a research either in management or in social sciences. It may comprise office files, business and legal papers, biographies, official and unofficial records, letters, proceedings of any courts, committees, societies, Assemblies, and Parliaments, enactments, constitution, reports of surveys, or research of commissions, official statistics, newspaper editorials, special articles, company news, cases or company directors’ reports, etc. Documentation is the process of collecting and extracting the documents which are relevant to research.

Documents may be classified into:

  • Personal documents;
  • Company documents;
  • Consultants’ report and published materials; and
  • Public documents.

Personal documents are those that are written by or on behalf of individuals. They may include autobiographies, biographies, diaries, memoirs, letters, observations and inscriptions, which are primarily written for the use and satisfaction of individuals and which can be utilized for research purposes. Personal documents play a very vital role in research, when certain information is not available from any other sources; however, such documents are subject to the difficulties of availability, reliability and validity of inferences.

Company documents are the most essential types of documents is management research, annual reports, statements of income and expenditure and balance sheets, files and records, policy statements, resolutions, minutes of board of directors, general bodies and executive conferences, performance records and evaluation files, specific forecasting and evaluation reports, directors’ reports, etc. Many of these documents are reliable ones, though they are subject to the problems of availability and adequacy. Such documents can be published or unpublished.

Consultant’s published materials consist of report of professional consultants, records of commodity boards, chambers of commerce, FICCI, manufacturers’ associations and industry associations.

Public documents are documents, both published and unpublished, of government organizations and documents of public interest. They include government records and files, draft outlines of five-year plans, consultative committee reports, finance commission reports, special enquiry commission reports, Company Law Board reports, MRTP Commission reports, reports and files of the Registrar of Companies, the Registrar of Firms, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, etc., report of population census, National Sample Survey and such other government research institutions. Such documents are valuable if they are reliable and suitable for a particular study if they can be obtained. Documentation is one of the most important needs of any management researcher at the primary sate of his research.