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Business Web Research Basics Resource Guide: Library Databases

Library Databases

The databases that Sawyer Library subscribes to are available both on campus and off-campus. For a full-listing of the business databases, select the 'General Business Databases' list.

For a discussion, with "fixes" for known issues related to off-campus access, please see our Off-Campus Troubleshooting page.

Business Source Complete
BSC is a scholarly business database, which provides peer-reviewed journals, with indexing and abstracts back as far as 1886 in some instances.  Additional content includes industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, and SWOT analyses.

USE TIP: Start with a keyword search, combining concepts by placing the word 'AND' in between. (Examples: nike and marketing / outsourcing and information technology) You can "Refine Your Search" by clicking on subject terms, source types, or other limiters provided in the left frame.  These limiters allow you to sort for specific types of materials like "Academic Journals," "Country Reports,"  "SWOT Analyses" or "Company Profiles." Another option is to look at the "Subject Terms" to search for articles on that topic.  Also, look for the 'Cite' button within the item record, for help with gathering the components necessary to compile a citation for a works cited page.  See this page from another of our guides for details.  And for a Basic (Word document) Search Help Sheet from Ebsco, click here.  And for a flash tutorial on search techniques on the EBSCOhost interface see this link.


ABI/Inform Complete
Content includes MIT Sloan Management Review, Selected ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (in business and economics topics), SSRN Working Papers, and publications of Business Monitor International, Economist Intelligence Unit, Oxford Analytica, and Oxford Economic Forecasting.  It also includes the Wall Street Journal.  

USE TIP: The default sort in all ProQuest databases is by date (most recent first).  Consider limiting to particular materials (the Source Types/More Option limiter), such as "Reports" or "Trade Journals." ProQuest offers a series of tutorial YouTube videos. Finally, the Library has a guide which compares the use of Business Source Complete to that of ABI-Inform.


LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Academic (LNA) is a massive database, which contains news (domestic and international newspapers), legal materials, and business information resources.

USE TIP: Open the 'Search by Content Type' drop down box, and choose from the 3 options listed under 'Companies:' Company Dossier, Company Profiles, and SEC Filings. The top Company Dossier option provides a "snapshot," recent financials, current news, etc.. For more tips on using Lexis Nexis, the company's wiki (aka "Knowledge Center") provides a variety of specific user guides on different types of searches.  This Knowledge Center homepage also links to YouTube videos and other support materials.

Business Insights: Essentials
Business Insights: Essentials, produced by Gale/Cengage, includes International Directory of Company Histories, Market Share Reporter, Business Rankings Annual, and the Encyclopedia of American Industries.

USE TIP: Although you can select areas to search from a top gray menu bar, you might just want to type in a simple search and then refine and limit results from the left frame of the results page.  This refining process is very similar to that in BSC.  One tool allows you to compare Companies and Industries.  For more information see this blog entry.

Wall Street Journal
This is the financial newspaper of record for the United States, and an excellent source of articles on company news, industry trends, and the general business climate. This ProQuest database provides full-text of articles back to 1984. (However, stock quotes and other numerical tables are not in the database.)

USE TIP: Like the news sections of LexisNexis, WSJ looks for keyword occurrences anywhere within the article full-text. So, if you are interested in searching for articles that are substantively about your company, look for the firm's basic name in the 'Anywhere Except Full Text' field. If your teacher wants you to read the Wall Street Journal every day and you don't want to subscribe to it as an individual, we have a guide that explains how to use the database to read the daily paper.

And if the business topic you are interested in is specific to Massachusetts, take a look at The Boston Globe and the Boston Business Journal (with Book of Lists).

Wall Street Journal Archive 1889-1993
As you can tell from the name, this version of the Wall Street Journal, also from ProQuest, is a digital archive that does NOT cover current stories, but does provide deep backfile. Use this version to look for specific events or aspects of a company's history for dates earlier than the current Wall Street Journal file. Also, because this is a page image database of the paper, it includes stock tables.

USE TIP: The opening "Basic Search" screen allows you to look for specific terms and narrow by date. The CO (company) searching is unfortunately not an option in this version of the WSJ. However, note the additional grey tab below the basic search that offers "More Search Options." This allows you to change the way articles are sorted, look for a specific author, or--most importantly--look for a specific Document Type. Document types include Front page, Display ad and Stock quote. For more tips on using the Historical Wall Street Journal, you can consult a Database Guide: Historical Newspapers from ProQuest.  And for more historical newspaper coverage, you might be interested in the Archive of the New York Times (back to 1851).

This valuable database is related to the well-respected manuals and handbooks that used to be called "Moody's." Search by company name or ticker and you will first see a "Company Details" report with a basic description and financial figures. Click on the blue tabs or the grey words underneath them to explore more information.

USE TIP: The Reports tab will link you to annual reports as a default.  But look for the grey words above the listings.  The "Industry Reports" can be very useful--and are available for international regions as well as North America.  And the "Mergent Reports" provide a very nice "Quantitative and Qualitative Report on the company. "  Note that there are green icons for Excel here and there on the website.  That means you can download the data into a spreadsheet, as needed. And do you need old financials (even back to the early 1900s)?  Mergent also has a digital archive of the old Moody's Manuals, Mergent WebReports. It is a page-by-page image archive of the actual books and is awkward to use, but can be useful for much older balance sheet and other information.

Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage
S&P is a major vendor of company financial, directory, and evaluative material. NetAdvantage opens with a busy opening screen, that offers everything from economic analysis to investment ideas. Ohe of the most valuable products unique to S&P is their "Industry Surveys" publication. These reports describe the environment and trends within an industry.  Also important are the "Stock Reports," which are included as part of the menu options within a Company Profile (Simple Search default option). The Stock Reports provide a very useful informational snapshot of an individual company.

USE TIP: Want to browse S&P's investment newsletter, The Outlook? In the box labeled 'S&P Publication Search,'  just below the Industry Surveys drop down box, is an option to select a date range for The Outlook.  To look for the company you are interested in within Outlook content, across ALL issues, use the "Simple Search" box in the upper right of the opening screen. Here you can select which publication you want to check for your company or industry.  Change the default  'Simple Search' option from 'Company Profile' to 'Outlook.'  And a note about the Industry Surveys: on the left margin of an opening Industry Survey screen, you can select other reports like Global Industry Surveys, Sub-Industry Review and Trends And Projections. For more on the database, see this guided tour.

Euromonitor International. Passport
From the London-based company, Euromonitor, comes an excellent database for information on international markets, and industry & country analysis. Passport covers 205 countries, with extended coverage of 52, so there is a good chance that this resource will have information even on nations considered developing markets. Euromonitor requires users to accept a usage agreement, before being transferred into the database.

USE TIP: Use the search box in the upper right corner, and then filter your results by marketing category, or geography. You may also build a search by industries, by country, or by consumer.  You may filter, and sort your results. Since Passport is not the easiest database to use, consider clicking on HELP. Here you will find FAQs as well as a "Getting Started" animated tour of the database.  For tips on using just the newer Industrial module, take a look at this Sawyer Library blog entry. And for a discussion of country research in Passport, see this separate Library Guide.

Value Line Research Center
The Value Line Investment Survey is one of the oldest and most respected print stock evaluation resources. This online version contains everything in the basic print Survey plus a lot more. Search by ticker symbol--and if you don't know your symbol, look for the link for "symbol lookup."

USE TIP: Once you have found your company's snapshot, look for the tab for the PDF content that corresponds to the paper product.  Here's a page where VL explains the information contained in their stock reports.

RDS Business Suite (TableBase)
RDS Business Suite includes three databases that can be searched together or separately. Business & Management Practices (BaMP) content focuses on practical approaches to management processes and methods. Business & Industry (B&I) is a broad-based business information database that focuses on facts, figures, events and market information about companies, industries, products and markets. TableBase presents business information in tabular format, such as: market share, market size, capacity, production, imports, exports, sales, and product rankings. If you are looking for basic data on markets and trends, this is the best database to consult. Tables are drawn from trade magazines, statistical annuals, brokerage reports, trade association materials, and governmental reports.

USE TIP:  If you are looking specifically for something like "market share," add that term to your keyword query. And if you are interested in how two brands compete, try putting in multiple brand names at once (e.g. nike and reebok and new balance). Note that the advanced search screen has many boxes that allow you to specify specific industries, document types, or regions. Use these limits cautiously, as you may end up eliminating records you actually want to look at.

Emerald Fulltext
Need scholarly journals in areas like human resources, general management, marketing, accounting and finance? Try this database (along with Business Source Complete, listed above). Emerald includes full-text articles from over 150 "peer-reviewed" journals in management and related fields. And since many of these journals are edited as well as published outside of the United States, articles often reflect more of a global perspective. Recently, we added an additional eBook collection--actually a variety of scholarly "annuals" likewise full of academic articles--to our Emerald database, as well.

USE TIP: Note that on the search screen, the default is to search for your keywords, by "relevance." This works well, but because the indexing goes further back than the full-text coverage, many article titles in your results list will be marked with a light green scissors icon indicating that only an abstract is available. Near the top of your results list is a box that allows you to change the sort/display to "newest" first. This retrieves the latest citations first, and these are the ones most likely to be full-text.  We now have some eBooks on the Emerald platform.  These are also scholarly, and the article/chapters are searchable at the same time.

And for additional sources of peer-reviewed journal literature, the more general publisher aggregates of Sage Journals Online, Oxford Journals Online and Wiley Online Library can all add additional refereed journals to your research mix. And if you click the limiting box for "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals ," you'll find plenty in Business Source Complete, too. For deep backfile of several key scholarly business and economic journals, you might also want to consult JSTOR.

Public Administration Abstracts
For those in the Public Management area of the Business school, this database will be useful as it targets the professional and scholarly literature of the Public Administration field. Because "Abstracts" is in the title, you know that this is not, per se, a full-text oriented database. You can only count on summaries or abstracts. However, since we get this through EBSCOhost, our primary database vendor, there are a great many articles that directly link from affiliated electronic resources.

USE TIP: This is definitely NOT a database where you want to click the box for "Full Text" because there is little here. Use the 'Full Text Finder' link under the item records in your result page to check for complete articles. And explore the "Subject Terms" assigned to the best articles you find. That's a great way to find more articles.

And for additional sources related to the public sector, check your topic search also in Business Source Complete and Political Science Complete.

Health Policy Reference Center
This is a very useful database for Public Management students; - specifically for those concentrating on Healthcare Administration.

USE TIP: As with all Ebsco databases, utilize the Full Text Finder link under the item records in your result page to check for complete articles, supplementing the many items available fulltext here in the database.

And for additional sources related to the healthcare, use the scholarly databases mentioned above. You might also find our health-related databases worth exploring. These include MEDLINE with Full Text and Health Reference Center-Academic.

Mergent Intellect (Includes Hoover's)
Search for company profiles & history, identify competitors, get a company description and history, and build lists based on location and industry.  Hoover's company profiles content is available in  LexisNexis Academic (listed above), but the build a list functions are easier in the Mergent version.

USE TIP: For best results, click the right radio buttons before putting a simple form of the company name in the search box.  For example, clicking Public and then Headquarters (when appropriate) is less likely to pull up subsidiaries and similarly-named firms. On the next page, when you click the name, you'll get "Key Information" with links to Financials, Industry, etc., in the dark frame above.  Note, too, the Company History link to the left.  And there is also a useful "Competitors List" (with links to rival firms), also in the left frame.  To build a list of competitors based on industry or location, go to the Advanced Search.

First Research, an affiliate of Hoover’s, is a leading industry intelligence company designed to help sales teams perform more effectively. Now that it is hosted by Mergent, you have to click several buttons before you enter the file.  However, patience is rewarded by useful information about industries, oriented towards smaller business and not just major industries. This industry database may be searched by keyword, SIC or NAICS code. State Profiles are also available here to provide a quick snapshot of the business climate in individual states and Canadian provinces, so just type a state name in the box to see these.

USE TIP: If you know your NAICS or SIC, then you can certainly use that as a search option. But a keyword search is useful if you actually want to look at related industries. For example, if I search medical devices, I am offered a variety of reports, ranked by relevancy, that would include "Medical Supplies and Devices," "Medical Equipment Distributors" and "Medical & Imaging Laboratories."

The best thing about ReferenceUSA is its size: 14 million U.S. Businesses providing "verified, accurate data" that is updated monthly. You can think of the database as an enhanced Yellow Pages. It doesn't provide a lot of information about a company, but it does list just about every firm, large or small. This database works best as a means of creating a list of all the companies that meet your criteria. For example, those that do a particular thing in a particular area.

USE TIP: For best results, do a custom search and check boxes that match the types of search fields or company characteristics you wish to explore. The top three sections--Name, Business Type, and Geography--are the most important ones for most people. But the "Phone" designation of Area Code can also be a handy way of identifying competitors in a local market.

Country Commerce (Economist Intelligence Unit)
This database presents lengthy reports on the operating environment in nearly 60 countries. Includes investing, taxation, licensing, human resources, and foreign trade. Unfortunately, few smaller, "developing" national markets are included here. (For example, Senegal is not included, but Kenya and Nigeria are.)

USE TIP: On the opening screen, you can search for a country to the left, but this will often lead you off to EIU materials that we do not have access to.  A better option is to open the "Reports" drop-down to the right.  Country Commerce is listed here, along with another useful related file, the Global Forecasting Service. 

And for additional sources of country information, take a look at the less business-oriented Europa World, SourceOECD.

Dun & Bradstreet's Key Business Ratios (KBR)
Here is another useful resource that will allow you to compare your company to the entire industry. Key Business Ratios (which quantify "Industry Norms") from D&B is a slightly less complex option for industry averages. Although not all industries (organized by SIC codes) are included in this database, most are. A simple industry average, these ratios are meant to measure solvency, efficiency and profitability.

USE TIP:  KBR still uses the four-digit SIC code to specify industry. For best results, it would help if you found the primary SIC you want from another resource, before you visit this resource. If you know your SIC, pick it from the top window on the default page. Otherwise, you can try picking the best match from the "Line of Business" window, but these abbreviated designations are confusing to sort through. Since most annual reports, company profiles, or even many industry-related articles in journal databases indicate SIC codes, you will be less frustrated by KBR if you come to the product prepared with the most appropriate four-digit code.

DemographicsNow is designed to provide U.S. demographic information including income, housing, race, age, education, consumer expenditures and more. You would first pick a geographic area--these include state, county, zip codes, and the like. Then you select specifics in your geographic category, then pick the types of statistics you want, or look for the grey tab that says "Report Packages" to choose a "Express Pack" report that covers topics like "Business Location" or Census or Population. You can even do comparisons or ranking reports, and produce maps.

USE TIP: Once you build or open the report you want, it can be put into a Printable Version, a PDF Version, or an Excel Version which would allow you to manipulate the data further. (Just look for the buttons at the top of the screen.)

GfK University Reporter (formerly MRI+ Mediamark Reporter)
The Reporter covers product and brand demographics. To access this area you MUST sign up using a Suffolk email address and provide the registration code (contact the Library).

If you wish to learn more about the general principles of research, take a look at our introductory Information Literacy Tutorial.