What is fact-finding? Definition and examples
Fact-finding refers to the gathering of information. It is often part of an initial mission, i.e., preliminary research, to gather facts for a subsequent full investigation or hearing. A fact-finding tour, for example, has the purpose of ascertaining facts. For example, you may want to check the facts about France before deciding to break into the French market.
In this context, ‘market’ refers to the business environment where people buy and sell things.
In an inquiry or investigation, fact-finding is the discovery stage. During this stage, people gather information by using questionnaires and other survey tools. They then assemble all the data in a report and give it, perhaps with recommendations, to the investigator.
A government or parliamentary committee may go on a fact-finding mission to discover and establish the facts of an issue.
An advancing army will send out scouts to check out the terrain ahead. They will look out for enemy soldiers, hostile terrain, opportunities, strategic advantages, etc. The scouts go out on a fact-finding mission before the troops move forward.
A fact-finding mission, according to Collins Dictionary: “is one whose purpose is to get information about a particular situation, especially for an official group.”
According to Queens University IRC in Canada, there are six golden rules in fact-finding.
Go to the source
The source may be a record or an individual. Even if the source is not readily accessible, you must strive to get the best evidence you can.
Do not let people sway you. It is important to focus just on the facts, rather than people’s personalities or opinions.
Do not be put off if you are not getting the information you require. Try to find out the root of the cause.
Do not become paralyzed
It is important to separate necessary from unnecessary facts. Make sure you go where the facts take you. However, do not go beyond your mandate.
Do not make assumptions
Confirm all the facts you gather again and again. If the information you have gathered is not accurate, the whole mission is pointless.
Devise a plan and follow it
When you develop a plan, think strategically. Before you begin, determine whom you need to talk to and what you need to establish. Regularly review your plan to confirm that it is effective.
According to Queens University IRC:
“When planned and executed properly, fact-finding provides a solid foundation for conducting analyses, forming conclusions, generating options and formulating sound recommendations.”
“Fact-finding may involve researching documents or existing records and data, holding focus groups, interviewing witnesses, or using written surveys and questionnaires.”