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Business Research

How Do I Search?

Person sitting reading with a book on their lap  with a highlighter on the book

Step One:

Take a look at the assignment. What information are you going to need?  Think about the elements that you have to discuss.

Step Two:

Conduct background research. First, to help you select the topic you want to discuss if you have not decided. Second, to help you focus your topic, which will make writing easier.  You want to know what information is out there, and how the topic has been already discussed.

In this background research, make note of any other terms that you see that related to your topic, this includes synonyms, technical terms, relevant theories, and historical names.  

Step Three:

Think about what you found in the first steps two steps and develop keywords for each aspect of your topic.  This will include keywords for each aspect of your research question or the aspects of the topic that you need to address. Think of broader and narrower terms, synonyms, historical terms, and possible cultural terminology.  Use the notes you made in the second step. 

Step Four:

Conduct some searches using keywords.  When searching, don't just look for results that work, but also make note of what you are seeing and what you are not seeing. This will help you modify your search. Try different combinations of your keywords. If you need help along the way make sure you contact your friendly librarian.  They are experts at locating information and love to help. 

Step Five:

Select your sources and make sure you know how to cite them correctly.

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

Tips for Doing Business Research 

The type and amount of information you will find on a company depends upon several factors.  Before you begin your research, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Are there variations of the company/industry name?  
Different research resources may use alternative terms or abbreviations of a company/industry name. 
Some databases require a ticker symbol to find company information.

2.  Is the company public or private?
It is usually easier to find information on public companies. For tips on finding information on private companies, go to the related tab at the top of this page.

3.  What about the company's "family tree"?
Is it a parent company?  Division of another?  Foreign-owned?  Family-owned?  

4.  Is the company newsworthy?
Companies tend to be in the news when they want the PR, when they are performing extremely well, or when they are having problems.   Even a small private company may be considered newsworthy by local press.

5. What is the source of the information? 

Look critically at the source of the information.  Company web sites and press releases tend to be biased while articles in newspapers or trade journals may be more balanced.

Search Tutorials

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