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When I cite examples of competitors, say like I mention that the competitors of company X are: A, B & C. Do I have to support my claim with a reference? It's just out of my personal observation that I know these are/could be the competitors of company X.

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    The more facts you have and list, the better, if you are the original author. Or you cite other people, that puts some (not all) of the responsibility on the sources, as people know H. Hyong is always reliable, and they also know that J. Smith never gets his data right and C. Winkish used to work for B and more than likely serves an agenda. – Captain Emacs Jun 5 '16 at 12:04
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This is not a common knowledge and should be best supported by some reference. Example reference for this could be market analysis papers, industry analysis reports or, at the very least, interviews with people from company X identifying A, B and C as competitors. The reason these claims should be supported is that you, personally, may not know some details about how A functions (making it target other audience than X) or miss a competitor D who is snapping at X's heels.

Now, how strict the requirement to support the claims is varying, depending on what kind of report you are writing. If it is a business plan for company X, apparently, you don't just use your personal observation, but should base your claims on something. If you are writing a general overview of some product that X, A, B and C produce, you might get away with using your personal observations, but it's still better to back up your claims with sources.

  • Thanks for the valuable answer. I am indeed writing a business plan. How about saying something like: 'competition is present in this industry (e.g. A, B & C)' while citing the country website (to prove its presence) of A, B and C? – R. AS. Jun 5 '16 at 13:10
  • This may be sufficient to prove that the competition exists, but you might be missing some D, E and F. Also, depending on your goals, you might want to deliver more details on A, B and C, such as their revenues, unique value propositions of their products, if they are making some innovations in the field -- all of which should be backed up with sources, and finding these sources is a big part of your work. – svavil Jun 5 '16 at 13:20
  • Yes definitely. At this point of the plan, I am just doing a SWOT analysis and mentioning that competition (as part of the threats) simply exists as evidenced by the presence of A, B, C, etc... (that's enough eh?) I am going to explain more about the competitors in the competition analysis part, all with sources. – R. AS. Jun 5 '16 at 13:23

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