Research Notation

There are various methods that an author can use to cite his or her sources. The most commonly used methods are those developed by the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association and the University of Chicago, respectively known as MLA, APA and CMS formatting. While these methods include much of the same information, each style places emphasis on different attributes of a source, which can contribute to making one style more suitable than another. Various disciplines have adapted one of these three styles as their preferred method of notation.

The CMS style is the most flexible of notation methods, as  it allows writers to choose between footnotes or in‐text citations. Furthermore, the author‐ date system highlights a source’s publication date, which is imperative information to know when analyzing real estate data. In real estate research and reporting, it is recommended to use the CMS formatting because of the combination of footnotes and the emphasis on dates. The Chicago Manual of Style can be accessed through the following link:


Not all sources should be treated equally. It’s important for students to identify and use information from reputable sources when conducting research. Determining the validity of a source however can be a challenge, especially when dealing with information obtained from the internet. To help weigh the credibility of a source, students can use the CRAAP test13.

First developed by the California State University, Chico library, CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. Students should answer questions regarding each category of criteria to determine whether a source should be used. Examples of questions that are recommended as part of the CRAAP test are outlined below14:

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

The CRAAP method recommends that users apply a point system to reach a conclusion regarding the validity of a source. Each of the 5 categories can receive up to 10 points with the total possible points being 50. A score of 45‐50 points in considered an excellent source, 40‐ 44 is considered good, 35‐39 is average, 30‐34 is borderline acceptable and below 29 is considered unacceptable. It is recommended that research students review the CRAAP criteria to gain an understanding of the elements that make up a reputable source.

Presentation of Research

The presentation of your research can take on a variety of formats depending on the purpose, audience, means of delivery and desired outcome of the research. This section of the report will detail important considerations for a presentation of real estate research; whether that presentation be a written report reviewed internally, a feasibility report, an RFP response, an oral presentation or reporting to investors (amongst others).

The purpose of the research should remain at the forefront of a presentation. What is the problem or question that you are trying to solve for? This should be clearly stated at the beginning of a presentation (whether that be written or oral), and clearly answered by the end of the presentation. It could be as straight forward as what is the IRR of a project, or as nuanced as what are the potential risks of a development in an emerging market? This purpose will essentially drive the entire presentation and serve as a thesis for the project.

The target audience is often an overlooked consideration when preparing and executing a presentation. The messaging, terminology and means of delivery are all dependent on the audience. It’s important to ask the following questions about the contingency of people that  will be reviewing the presentation:

1.           What is their knowledge base of the subject matter?

2.           What is their role in this project or subject?

3.           What information matters most to them?

4.           What are they looking to gain from the presentation?

5.           What means of delivery will they be most receptive to?

Answering these questions before preparing a presentation will give the presenter clear vision and direction that will lead to a more successful product. Consider the clear distinction of presenting site/project research and a feasibility study for the renovation of an 80/20 building in Brooklyn to two very different audiences.

If the audience is an investor, then they will most likely be:

1.           Very knowledgeable about the asset class, key assumptions and the financial analysis

2.           They are a potential stakeholder in the project

3.           They care about the project’s feasibility and return on their capital

4.           They are trying to understand if this project is a desirable investment for them

5.           They will want a full project summary with clear focus on the financials and risks of the project.

If the audience is the tenant association, then they will most likely be:

1.      Knowledgeable about the building itself and their rental history at the site (not about financial assumptions for project feasibility)

2.       They are the residents of the building and the income stream for ownership

3.       They care about the physical condition and management of the building, and their ability to continue to live in their apartment post‐renovation

4.       They are trying to understand what a renovation project means for their future at the building


5.       They will want a presentation that addresses their concerns and questions about work being done on their units, how it will affect their day to day, and the status of their lease and rent post‐renovation.


Thinking critically about your audience will then organically lead you to consider the most effective means of delivery for your research. If the presentation is in written format (ie an internal report or RFP response), then the means of delivery is clear; you will be providing a written deliverable to your audience. Organization, structure and defining the purpose of the research are imperative to a creating this product. If you are answering an RFP or submitting an application, you will want to make sure that you have answered the original request fully and completely, and that you have followed the established format of the request with exhibits as necessary. Key assumptions and sources of information should be clearly summarized at the end of a written presentation.

If the presentation is oral, you will want to be strategic in how the power point (or other visual aid) is written and what information is included in writing versus information that is only communicated through speech. Visual aids should be simple, concise and minimalistic to accompany the spoken presentation. They should complement and support, not distract. Perhaps you will want to provide a written deliverable to accompany the oral presentation that summarizes key takeaways, action items and/or final conclusions. Be sure to allocate sufficient time to address any questions or facilitate discussion at the end of an oral presentation. Perhaps even consider preparing questions should the audience not have any to ensure that important and impactful details of the presentation are underscored again.

The final item to focus on during preparation and delivery of a presentation is the desired outcome of your research. The research you have completed concludes something: it could demonstrate a path forward to create a financially feasible project, an argument to rent versus acquire space, an application to solicit government support for a project, etc. The presentation should clearly lead the audience to agree with this desired outcome and final recommendation. It should be constructed honestly, but persuasively, with sufficient evidence and discussion of risks, sensitivities and alternatives. The goal is the inform and educate the audience, and to organically allow them to arrive at the same conclusion as you – the informed and diligent researcher.