Before doing any research, decide what it is you need to find out,
and develop clear, concise, and meaningful questions
For example, instead of saying "I need information to help me
decide whether or not RC Willey should expand into the Phoenix area",
you might break this down into the following specific questions:
- Who are RC Willey's primary competitors in the Phoenix area?
- How big are the competitors' stores (number of employees)?
- What are their sales per store?
- What is their market share?
- What are basic demographics for the Phoenix area?
- income levels
- age distribution
- ethnic breakdown, etc.
- What are construction costs for this area?
- What are land costs for this area?
- What is the cost of advertising in the local media for this
- billboards, etc.
As you start to locate
information, you may come up with other questions. Make sure
there is a reason for finding all of the information you are searching;
make sure it is relevant. You might start by writing
out a list of questions and stating reasons why you need this information.
If you can't think of a reason why you need the information, you
probably don't need it:
- I need to know what construction costs and land costs are for
the Phoenix area because I will be building two new stores.
- I need to know what the income levels are for the Phoenix area,
because I want my stores to be located near middle-income areas.
It is a good idea to check
SEVERAL publications for competitor lists. Some print sources
may be a bit dated; and some online sources may not be as reliable.
For example, you might try checking the Salt Lake City Yellow Pages
and the Switchboard.com Web site to obtain a list of R C Willey
competitors in the Salt Lake area.
- For a list of major competitors for a particular company in
a particular area (ie. a list of furniture stores in Ogden), try
a particular category (ie. furniture dealers--retail) and limit
to a specific city or state to obtain a list of competitors operating
in that area.
- Another good place to look for competitors in a particular area
is to check the yellow pages for that city. Or, try Ward's
business directory of U.S. private and public companies Reference
Table 6 HG4057.A575 2001. Excellent source for private
One of the best places to start identifying potential competitors
is via Hoover's in the Lexis database. From the main menu,
select 'Business', then select 'Company Financial' from the next
menu. Select 'Hoovers' from the source menu and type in
the company name in the search box.
Directories on the Web
Provides links to many U.S. business yellow pages on the Web.
- State or regional newspapers may have articles on your competitors.
To access newspapers from a particular state or region of the
country, use the Lexis-Nexis
database. Select 'News' from the main menu, then 'U.S. News'
from the next menu. Select either a state or a region to
search newspapers from that area.
sources will provide a variety of information about a specific population,
including income distribution, age level, ethnic groups, etc.
The level of coverage (state, county, city, etc.) will vary depending
on the source you use. The following sources may be useful
to you in completing this particular assignment.
- Sourcebook of ZIP Code Demographics Reference
Table 5B HA203.S66
Includes statistical data on more than 150 characteristics such
as age, race, income, households.
Lots of Census data, including facts about population and housing,
business and industry, community information, and maps.
This is a great starting point, as it goes down to the city and
and City Data Book
Official population and housing data from the 2000 Census
plus business and other data for all U.S. counties, cities with
25,000 or more inhabitants, and places of 2,500 or more inhabitants.
Provides links to both national and international statistics.
A good place to start, particularly for regional demographic and
economic data. For U.S. geographic area data choose 'Geography'
from the opening screen, then 'Map Stats'. For all other
topics choose Subjects A to Z which includes links to other government
statistics sites. Their International
Data Base provides online socioeconomic data for many countries
in such categories as population, vital statistics, literacy,
labor force, employment, and income.
Abstract of the United States
Text of the Statistical Abstract of the US available in PDF
format. A good starting point for general statistics on
almost any subject, this resource provides a digest of statistics
from many sources. Check the sources listed at the end of the
statistical tables for updated or more detailed data.
and Metropolitan Area Data Book
From the U.S. Bureau of the Census. A collection
of statistics on social and economic conditions in the United
States at the State and metropolitan area levels.
Provides census data for states, counties, and metropolitan areas.
Use the tabs at the top of the page to select charts, maps, or
rankings. Data includes information such as multiracial
and population growth, population by race, age structure, and
If you need specific information
about a local area (ie. land or construction costs for a particular
location) that is not available via standard statistical or demographic
sources or via local online sources (ie. chambers of commerce or
city Web sites), try contacting the local chamber of commerce via
Chambers of Commerce
Chambers of commerce are great places to gather specific data
about a particular location, and many of them have Web sites.
This directory of chambers includes U.S. cities and states, Canadian,
and National chambers, and links to other online chamber directories.
For other statistical
& demographic sources see research guides for Government
Business & Economics Information (for federal, state, local,
Utah, and international statistical information); and Marketing
& Advertising (for market & demographic statistics,
market segment information, and consumer research sources).
These sources provide information about individual magazines, newspapers,
radio and TV stations, cable and satellite systems, and web sites.
They may provide information about circulation numbers, broadcast
power and range, network affiliation, target audiences, physical formats,
and rates charged for advertising.
- Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media
Reference Table 6A PN4867. G3
This source provides detailed information on newspapers, magazines,
journals, radio stations, television stations, and cable systems.
Includes advertising rates and circulation statistics, and population
and top industries for each city. International coverage.
From Advertising Age. Provides lists of top magazines and
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook Reference Table
Covers television, cable, satellite broadcasting, and radio industries
in the US and Canada. Includes market sizes for television in
metro areas and target audiences for reatio stations. Some
advertising rates. Includes twelve sections: A: industry
overview plus a directory of group owners; B: directory of television
stations by state and city, and TV market statistics; C: cable
rankings by household and penetration percentage; D: directory
of radio stations, call letter lists, radio formats by state,
and radio market statistics; E: satellites and other services;
F: programming services; G: technical services; H: brokers and
professional services; I: associations, events, education, and
awards; J: law, regulation, and government agencies.
publications and associations can be valuable and detailed sources
of information about a particular industry or your competitors.
There are several strategies you can use to search for information
in these sources:
- Identify specific titles of trade publications
or associations by looking in one of the sources listed above.
If they include a Web address, try browsing their sites.
Some will require you to subscribe, and others will provide information
free of charge. One example of a furniture retail association
is the National Home Furnishings Association.
This and other furniture trade magazines and associations are
listed in the Directory of Business Resources above.
- For trade magazines that do not provide Web
addresses, or for those that do not offer information for free,
check the list of Full
Text Electronic Journals and Newspapers to see if WSU offers
full text access to that particular title. For example,
If you are looking for the magazine called Home Furnishings, click
on 'H' and scroll down until you see the title (if you do not
see the title you are looking for, we do not have access to that
title online- try searching the online catalog to see if we own
it in print). You will see that Home Furnishings is available
from 1995 to 1999 in a database called Masterfile Premier,
from 1997-1999 in Lexis, and 1998 editions are available in the
Business & Industry database. Just click on the database
name, and do a guided search to search for a specific title.
- Directory of Business Information Resources
Reference HF54.52 .U5 D567 2000 Provides lists of associations,
newsletters, magazines & journals, trade shows, directories
& databases, and Web sites for particular industries.
- Encyclopedia of Business Information Sources Reference
This encyclopedia is organized by industry/topic. A list of "Periodicals
and Newsletters" is provided for all the industries listed. The
Encyclopedia also describes the abstracts and indexes, directories,
encyclopedias and dictionaries, handbooks and manuals, statistical
sources, trade and professional societies, and electronic databases
available for each industry.
- Encyclopedia of Associations Reference Desk
- National Trade and Professional Associations of the United
States, 1999 Reference HD2425.N37 1999
- Associations on the Net
(Internet Public Library)
"A collection of over 2000 Internet sites providing information
about a wide variety of professional and trade associations, cultural
and art organizations, political parties and advocacy groups,
labor unions, academic societies, and research institutions. Abstracts
summarizing information about the association and its site are
& Poor's NetAdvantage
In the Industry Surveys section, look at "industry references"
for a list of important trade journals and professional and trade
associations for a particular industry.
You can also find trade
magazines in many of the periodical indexes, such as ABI/Inform,
Source Premier, Business
& Industry, or Business
Dateline. (The last two on this list are reat for local
or regional coverage.)
Keep in mind when searching
for industry information that different sources will classify industries
a little differently; some classify industries into broader areas
than others (ie. 2 digit SIC versus 6 digit SIC). Some use
the SIC classification, some use NAICS, and some use both.
It is a good idea to look up your industry classification code first.
American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Provides common industry definitions for Canada, Mexico, and the
United States. This new system is replacing the countries' separate
classification systems with one uniform system for classifying
industries. In the US, NAICS will replace the Standard Industrial
Classification system (SIC). Provides information about new industries
and sectors as well as correspondence information between NAICS
Industrial Classification Code Search
Allows a search of the 1987 version SIC manual by keyword, access
of descriptive information for a specified 4-digit SIC, and examination
of the manual structure. The SIC manual may be searched by keyword
or by SIC code from this site.
- Standard industrial classification manual : SIC 2 +
2 Reference Table 6 HF1042.S73 1988
- North American industry classification system
Reference Table 6 PREX2.6/2:IN 27/997/
- RMA Annual Statement Studies Reference
Table 6 HF5681. B2 R58
Contains composite financial data on manufacturing, wholesaling,
retailing, service, and contracting lines of business. Arranged
by SIC code, this work makes it possible to compare one company's
performance relative to other companies in the same line of business.
- Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios Reference
Table 6 HF5681. R25153
Includes both public and private US corporations of all sizes.
- Standard & Poor's Industry SurveysReference
Table 6 HC106.6 .S74
Analysis of current and historical trends on an industry basis.
Current edition available online via Standard
& Poor's NetAdvantage
- Value Line Investment Survey Reference
Provides ratings and reports on industries and major companies.
Each industry section covers major issues as well as composite
From the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The number
of business establishments are given for each SIC code and within
certain employment size ranges for the U.S., states and counties.
Most of the statistics are arranged by SIC industry codes.
The 1997 Census also uses NAICS.
Includes market reports from five industry sectors: consumer goods,
energy, finance, healthcare, and e-commerce/technology.
Full-text reports available in PDF or HTML format.
- RATS: Read All The Screens! Look at dates,
spelling and search syntax carefully to avoid simple mistakes.
A common example: In the Lexis-Nexis database, the default
search searches only articles from the past six months.
If you are searching for an article from 1996, you need to change
the date range. If you are not getting any results you might
increase the number of years in your search. Another common
mistake is using the wrong truncation symbols (see number 3 below).
Each database has a different symbol.
- When searching for information in databases, always use
the 'advanced search' option. This will give you
more options for customizing your search.
- Use truncation symbols to
broaden your search. For example, the search term market? in the
ABI/Inform database will find articles with the word market, markets,
marketing, marketers, etc. Truncation symbols for some of
the databases you will probably use for this research are:
- Lexis-Nexis !
- ABI/Inform ?
- Business Source Premier *
- Use the field search options
on the advanced search screen for more specific searches.
Most of these databases will provide a company field for searching
for information on a specific company. Other useful fields
might include the SIC code/industry code option (for locating
articles on a particular industry) or the geographical field (ABI
only) for locating articles that focus on a particular area.
When searching for articles from a particular journal (ie. Harvard
Business Review), choose the journal title/publication title field.
Below is an example of
an advanced search using truncation and field searching. This
ABI/Inform search is locating articles that focus on the Cleveland
area, the company Parker Hannifin, and have the term manufacture,
manufacturers, manufacturing, etc. somewhere in the article.
Some databases also provide a date range; this database is searching
for articles from all date ranges.
When searching for materials,
try a variety of databases- ask a librarian for suggestions based
on your topic. Remember- different databases will have different
coverage, and will look a little different. One good strategy
is to try to find one or two GOOD articles- once you've found them,
look at the terms they use, and try another search using those terms.
For more detailed information on finding full text articles from
business database, see 'finding
full text articles online'.
If you STILL can't find
exactly what you need, or have questions...
- CALL the Reference desk at: 626-6514
- CLICK on the Live assistance button for real
time help during library hours.
- Email us at
- or COME IN! The Reference Desk is on the main