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Asking the right questions for research

Senior researcher shares how she approaches her work

November 07, 2022

Home Blog Asking the right questions for research
Caterina Corazza researcher

Caterina Corazza loves her job. As LAC Group’s senior researcher, she puts her inquiring mind to work on a wide range of topics for her firm’s corporate clients. In this post, she offers a personal insight into how she approaches her work.

“I feel it’s a privilege to work on these research requests,” says Caterina. “These questions are often burning issues for our clients, and LAC Group is brought in as a third party to raise considerations they have not thought of.”

She says working at LAC provides an opportunity to look at questions that likely would not come up elsewhere. Some examples that Caterina has found interesting include projects like:

  • The future of advocacy
  • Health effects of climate change on the older adult population
  • Investment trends in space
  • ESG investing
  • Quantum technology

“The fun part of my job is researching and working on topics that I already find fascinating.”

She considers herself a news junkie, and her projects sometimes align with what she would be interested in reading outside work. She enjoys reading business news, investment trends, and about emerging technology. But what makes the work enjoyable can also be what makes it challenging, says Caterina.

“Research questions sometimes raise foundational questions about how the economy (or society) is organized. ESG, for example, requires companies to consider their role in their communities and the supply chain. As for emerging technologies, describing potential opportunities or risks can sometimes feel speculative. These topics are delicate to write about, so it becomes essential to focus on concrete, specific developments instead of value judgments. This helps maintain a tone that’s appropriate for a professional audience.”

A research question can be approached from many angles, explains Caterina.

“Another challenge is that there may not be agreed-upon metrics or indicators. In those circumstances, the researcher’s job is to get creative and think of many relevant angles to approach the question. A simple question produces five, or ten, related questions. And those ‘sub-questions’ become the paper’s outline or the information fields in a competitive landscape.”

Considering what ‘leadership’ looks like is a helpful way to approach competitive landscapes. She says she looks beyond rankings to ask herself how the client will go to market and how their approach differs from their competitors.

“Does the staffing align with their positioning? Are there events, publications, or sponsorships that highlight the firm’s expertise? It’s also interesting to see which firms have a standard-setting role—participating in government consultations or advisory committees—to shape their industries long-term. If a firm’s views become policy, it’s the ultimate ‘flex’.”

Caterina believes there’s a balance to writing a paper for an expert in their field. She will often start with a detailed outline and a definite cap on how much time will be spent on each report section.

“Time is weighted based on the client’s preferences and the difficulty level, and this is reflected in the level of detail and analysis in the paper.”

Wherever possible, she likes to try and surprise her client. “I like to add moments that make readers go, ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way’.”

While Caterina doesn’t often find out what happens to the research after it’s submitted to the client, she does know that clients have used it to develop new products, services, and programs. Deep dives and narrative pieces also serve as support or conversation for clients’ executives.

She’s also aware that competitive landscape research sometimes surprises clients who think they’re in a leadership position but find their competitors are innovating in unexpected ways.

“That’s the beauty of research. It challenges assumptions and makes organizations reassess their position in the market.”

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