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Starting Points: "Which Sources Should I Use?


If you are new to business research in libraries, you should first become familiar with the types and formats of information you can expect to find. I will outline the distinctions that make these sources different, and show how you can access each type of information. Business research sources can be found in either paper or online formats. Please take a little time here to read and get acquainted with the sources. (Also, please note, these two links,  "Research Guides" and "Business Research FAQ's," can be good starting points for your assignments as well.)


These sources are:

-- Academic Journals
-- Trade Publications
-- Popular Magazines
-- Newspapers

Reference Books
Financial Reports
Industry Overviews
Marketing Research Reports
Statistical Reports
Other Databases
Other Internet based Documents and Reports

Back to topPeriodicals

A very large part of business information can be found in periodicals. Periodicals are publications that are produced on a periodic and on-going basis. And within the realm of periodical information we have several major sub-types:

Back to topAcademic or Scholarly Journals

Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews and even case studies. Peer reviewed scholarly journals are highly valued in a university research. These are the best way of accessing business scholarly articles:

Business Sources Premier
Business Sources Premier
Google Scholar
Google Scholar


Back to topTrade Publications

Trade publications are periodicals, or publications printed with the intention of target marketing to a specific industry or type of business. Trade publications are often rich in unique data and statistics, and are often the source of information about specific products, companies, people, sales and market share. These are the best places to search for trade publications:

Business Insights & Essentials
WestLaw News


Back to topPopular Magazines

Popular periodicals are the types of periodicals you would expect to find in a news stand. They can be about news, business, politics, hobbies, entertainment, fashion, people, and etc. The articles tend to be easy to read and are often written by journalists. They can be great sources of information on certain topics. Our best source for accessing popular magazines is:

EBSCO MasterFile
EBSCO MasterFile


Back to topNewsletters and Newspapers

Contain news information of all sorts. Some are focused on the news of a particular city or region. Some newspapers have a national audience and some newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, focus mainly on business. Most newspapers can be useful in providing information on business people, products, services, companies and more. Our best sources for accessing newspapers are:

ProQuest News


Back to topBooks

Books can found on almost any topic: business, engineering, science, medicine, law, history, companies, biographies, technology, "how-to" manuals, etc. When doing business research, one should not overlook the possibilities of what might be in books

These are your best sources for finding information in books:

umd catalog UMD Catalog (Advanced)
Search for books, government documents, reference books, videos and periodicals by title using the Advanced Search of the UMD Online Catalog.


Find over 330 million books, government documents, videos found in thousands of libraries. THIS IS OUR BEST SOURCE FOR FINDING AND ORDERING MATERIALS THROUGH OUR FREE INTERLIBRARY LOAN SERVICE. Interlibrary Loans often require 1-3 weeks or more to fulfill. You can request Inter Library Loan via the link on each WorldCat book record.

google book search

With this exciting and very new service, search for any keywords and discover which books are highly ranked for them. You may be able to find and read a few pages of the scanned book in context. If the Kathryn A. Martin Library does not own these books, remember they can be accessed via our Inter Library Loan service.


Amazon Books
Find new and used books available for sale, often with brief reviews and ratings. If the Kathryn A. Martin Library does not own these books, remember they can be accessed via our Inter Library Loan service.

MNCAT All Campuses Catelog

Get It!
First: We now have our "Get-It" Service:
What does this mean? It means that you can now use our All- University Library catalog: and search all U of MN campuses just as you would our campus. You can mark "Get-It" for any circulating book held at any campus, including UMD, and it will be pulled and held for you at our Circulation desk. You will be notified by email. UMD requests are usually filled within one day and requests from other campuses can take 2 to 4 working days. This is faster than Inter Library Loan as there is no intermediary processing your request. This is available for faculty, staff and students. FREE! All University of Minnesota book resources are now at your finger tips!!


Back to topReference Books

Many libraries, including our Library at UMD, have collections of special books known as "reference books." These include atlases, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias handbooks, thesauri, or any other works designed to be used in finding specific items of information, rather than for cover to cover reading. We have many fine business reference books, and you can learn more about them here:


Back to topFinancial Reports

A common task in business research is finding financial reports on companies. These can be in the form of annual reports, filings with the SEC, ("What is the SEC?") investor reports, analyst research, financial ratios, and related financial data.

Listed below are the Kathryn A. Martin Library's best sources for financial information:

Business and Company Resource Center

Business Insights & Essentials
Company & industry news linked to electronic reference books. Contains histories, market shares, rankings, industry surveys, and investment reports. For financial information, search for a company, say "General Mills," and once you find the company profile, click on either "Investment Reports," or "financials."

google finance

Google Finance
Google Finance is an early beta product that offers a broad range of information about North American stocks, mutual funds and public and private companies along with charts, news, and fundamental financial data. FAQ

Mergent Online

Mergent Online
Provides business and financial information for 23,000 U.S. and international companies. Financials for 15 years, balance sheets, income statements "as reported" and can be downloaded to spreadsheet. Includes company overviews, histories financial ratios,SEC reports, and much more. Mergent Online IS OUR BEST SOURCE FOR COMPANY ANNUAL REPORTS and FINANCIAL DATA.

Mergent/Moody's Manual Collection

Mergent/Moody's Manual Collection
Mergent / Moody's Online Manuals Collection provides extensive historical and current information for public companies worldwide, including history, chronology, acquisitions, mergers, spinoffs, properties, joint ventures, subsidiaries, officers and directors, consolidated income and balance sheets, long term debit, options, and other financial data. Includes the following manuals:

* Industrial Manual since 1920
* OTC Industrial Manual since 1970
* OTC Unlisted Manual since 1986
* Bank & Finance Manual since 1928
* Public Utility Manual since 1914
* Transportation Manual since 1909


Provides independent investment analysis of 1500 stocks and 2000 mutual funds. Includes current analyst reports for both particular companies and funds with an eye to what is happening in the industry. This is a highly regarded and unique source of financial information.


Contains large Industry Surveys (and overviews of markets) for leading companies in 52 industries. Search by company or industry. Standard & Poor's stock analysis is available for public companies.

S&P Logo

Research Insight ("COMPUSTAT")
A database with approximately 10,000 active and 8,000 inactive North America companies. Its financial data can download to Excel. Research Insight is an electronic resource available only on the UMD campus via the Novell Network. It is not a Web based information services. Special software from the network must be downloaded to your PC in order to connect and work with this database. PCs on the Library's 2nd floor can access Research Insight.


Back to topIndustry Overviews

Industry overviews are special reports produced by business research companies that provide a general understanding of the composition and condition of a given industry at a given point in time.

Our best sources for industry overviews are located here:
Industry Overviews FAQ


Back to topMarketing Research Reports

Market research reports gather and evaluate data regarding consumers' preferences for products and services. They can contain information regarding sales, market share, consumer demographics and psychographics. These are our best sources for market research reports:

Passport GMID

Passport: Global Marketing Information Database (Passport GMID)
An integrated on-line information system providing key business intelligence on countries, companies, markets, and consumers. Passport GMID contains over a million demographic, economic, and marketing statistics for 205 countries worldwide. The database also contains 6-year historic market size data for more than 330 consumer products in 52 countries, plus 5-year forecasts. To access thousands of international company profiles in Passport GMID, click on "Browse Reports," and then click on "Company Profiles."

Mintel Reports

Mintel Reports
Database containing over 600 consumer product and service marketing reports. Most are US and UK based. They are full of amazing detail and analysis.


Back to topStatistical Reports

Statistical Reports can help with your analysis of many business subjects. You can find reports and data on demographics, production, sales, imports, exports and all sorts of economic data. These are just a few of our statistical databases:

Historical Statistics of the USA

Historical Statistics of the United States
(From Booklist) The five volumes or parts are arranged by broad topics: Population Work and Welfare, Economic Structure and Performance, Economic Sectors, and Governance and International Relations. Sources for tables are carefully noted and include journals, monographs, and scholars' research for dissertations as well as government publications. Detailed documentation is provided as well. Available in the Library in both paper format and online.

A more comprehensive list of sources can be found here:
Statistical Sources on the Launch Pad


Back to topOther Databases

While we are fortunate to have many fine business research databases, I often make the point that business, unlike many other disciplines at the university, is very (VERY) interdisciplinary. This means, depending on what you are researching, you may need information from standard business sources AND you may need information from non-business sources or disciplines. You may have to draw on the books and journals of psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, history, mathematics, engineering, medicine, and even the fine arts, pure sciences and humanities. This makes business research demanding and yet interesting and creative. As I love to say: "Business information is where you find it." Do not limit your thinking as to where to look. Study your research question to understand its connections and parameters. Be a detective, look for clues, and follow them.

The Kathryn A. Martin Library has many databases and resources in many disciplines, and so we are very capable of helping you as search for needed information in non-business areas.

We have over 320 databases in the Library and they can be viewed here by subject.
Over sixty of these are either business databases or sources of information of direct interest or utility to business. Some are specialized and some can provide general reference information. Here are some examples:


NBER: National Bureau of Economic Research
Contains the full-text of working papers from the National Bureau of Economics Research. The NBER covers four areas of empirical research: developing new statistical measurements, estimating quantitative models of economic behavior, assessing the effects of public policies on the U.S. economy, and projecting the effects of alternative policy proposals. Many of its publications, including its working papers, NBER reporter, and NBER digest, are available for download. NBER is updated frequently.

See also these three other sources of working papers:

Economics Research Network (ERN)

Research Papers in Economics


Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary Online
Considered to be the authority
on the evolution of the English language. It is a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over 500,000 words, both present and past.

OECD iLibrary

OECD iLibrary
Contains full-text articles, books and monographs and statistics produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD). Full-text from 1998 forward; statistical data from 2000 forward . Subjects: Agriculture and food, education and skills, employment, emerging economies, energy, enterprise and trade, environment and sustainable development, finance and investment, general economy. Great for international business and economics topics. Updated quarterly.


A multilingual encyclopedia that is collaboratively edited and maintained by thousands of users via wiki software, and is hosted and supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. In addition to typical encyclopedia entries, Wikipedia includes information more often associated with almanacs, gazetteers, and specialist magazines, as well as coverage of current events. It has over 5.5 million entries, and is constantly growing. Many articles are long, detailed, with sources clearly cited and includes related links. Wikipedia has been controversial because of its open collaborative nature, however, it has received good marks in recent scholarly reviews . This is a good place to get an overview of business related definitions, topics or issues. The Wikipedia can help you to find and understand the "keywords" you will need to search our library's many databases . You may not want to cite the Wikipedia as a source, but it may lead you to sources you can cite. Learn how to make the best use of this wonderful resource .


Back to topInternet Based Documents and Websites

The Internet can be an amazing source of information. Great information can be found on company websites, blogs, government agencies, professional organizations and universities. You can find statistics, biographical data, photographs, maps, products, prices, unique reports and etc. The two best search engines for surfing the Internet are:


Google is the first place to go to search the web.

Google Help


"Bing" is Microsoft's much improved Search Engine

Bing Help

This has been your initial orientation to business research sources and databases. I hope this will provide you with good places to start your business research.

If you have questions, or need more help, feel free to see me. Here is my contact information.


Last Update: October 27, 2020

  jim vileta

Compiled by Jim Vileta
former Business Librarian

Need books, media or classroom instruction? Contact Kim Pittman.

Need help with research or finding information? Contact libaskus@d.umn.edu

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