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Business Research Assistant

Find credible sources of business information, in print and online

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Librarians are working remotely but still available and eager to help.

Click the "Need help?" link on the left to send a question to our virtual reference desk or to make an appointment with Trina.

Or look below the photo on the left to see if Trina is available right now to chat.

Take good care!

FIND BUSINESS INFORMATION

How to use this website (video)

Five-minute video on using this website

undefinedHow to Find Information Using the "Business Research Assistant"

Filetype: Video

Time to completion: 5:01 minutes

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Video Transcript: How to find Information Using the “Business Research Assistant”
Trina Magi
Howe Library, University of Vermont

Hi! I’m Trina Magi, a reference librarian at University of Vermont, and I’m here to help. This five-minute video will teach you how to use the Business Research Assistant to find credible business information.

It’s hard to find high-quality business information free on the web. That’s because it has great value in the marketplace, and businesses don’t want to give it away for free.

Fortunately, Howe Library purchases lots of good quality business information for you to use—in both print and online formats.

The Business Research Assistant will help you uncover that information. Let me show you how.

You can get to the Business Research Assistant from the Howe Library website. Go to “Research Guides” and then click “Business.”

Here’s the home page of the Business Research Assistant. There are three main sections.

Here on the left are lots of links to help you do specific things—like cite your sources, read the Wall Street Journal, or determine if a company is public or private. Don’t hesitate to use the “need help?” link if you have questions or need assistance.

If you want to search for articles on a business topic, use the section on the right. Here’s a link to our business databases, and here are some helpful search tips. Remember—use this section only if you want to find articles from business journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Much of the time, however, you will not be looking for articles. Instead, you’ll be looking for things like statistics, company histories, industry reports, market research, and financial statements. For that sort of information, use this middle section.

I’ll show you how it works.

Suppose I am doing research on Ben and Jerrys. That’s a company, so I’ll click “Companies.”

This menu lets me specify what kind of company information I’m looking for. If I wanted to know about the history of a company, I would check this box—“Company History.” And suppose I also want to look at market share. Then I would check this box, as well. Now maybe I don’t know If Ben and Jerry’s is a public or private company, so I’ll click the button that says “don’t know.”

Now I can click “compile list.”

And here’s the result—a list of high-quality sources of business information provided by the library. Notice that some of the sources are printed books, as in these first two. Other sources are subscription databases available to UVM affiliates, as in this third case. And still others are freely available websites, like this one.

For each source, you will see a location—where to find it--and a description of the source. And also, some search tips. Pay close attention to these—it could save you a lot of time!

Now I can go to these sources, and within each of them, search for information about Ben and Jerrry’s.

Now suppose I also want to learn more about the types of people who spend money on ice cream. That’s a marketing question, so I’ll go back up and choose the “marketing” menu. And here, I’ll select from the list “consumer surveys and psychographics” and again click “compile list.“

Now I have a list of sources that are good for finding out about consumer expenditures. I would consult these to see if they have information about people who buy ice cream.

Notice that this list of sources is rather long. You might want to start by looking at the sources marked “best bet” at the top. All the sources on the list are high quality, but the best bets are good starting points. The rest of the sources are listed in alphabetical order—not in order of relevance—so don’t think that sources at the bottom of the list are inferior in any way.

The other menus work exactly the same way. So you can use the Business Research Assistant to find information in any of these areas.

This has been a quick introduction to the Business Research Assistant at Howe Library.

You’ll probably have questions and need help from time to time. Research isn’t easy, and the librarians at the reference desk are eager to provide assistance. You can ask us any question—big or small. And you can do it in person, by phone, or by email.

Thanks for watching, and good luck with your research.

Need help?

Contact the librarians at the Howe Library Reference Desk.

or

Request a research appointment with Trina Magi, business librarian.

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Cite sources

UVM Citation Builder

General Guides to Other Citation Styles (Chicago, MLA)

 

Six-minute video on how to cite sources in APA style

Screen shot from videoHow to Cite Your Sources

Filetype: Video

Time to completion: 5:59 minutes

Captions: no

Video Transcript: How to Cite Your Sources
Trina Magi, Howe Library, University of Vermont
July 2019

Hi. I’m Trina Magi, a reference librarian at University of Vermont, and I’m here to help.

Whether you’re writing a research paper or a business plan, you’ll hear your professors tell you over and over again—be sure to cite your sources. In this six-minute video, you’ll learn why it’s important, how to do it, and where to get help.

Citing sources is important for three reasons.

First, citing sources helps you avoid plagiarism by giving credit to others for their work. Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work and ideas as your own. There are serious consequences for students who plagiarize, so you don’t want to do it!

Second, citing sources increases the credibility of your paper. It makes it more believable and persuasive. It shows your professor that you’ve done your research and that you didn’t simply make up the information in your paper.

Third, citing sources helps people who read your paper track down the information you used. Suppose you include interesting facts in your paper. If you cite the source of those facts, your readers can use your reference to find the original material and read it for themselves.

That’s why you must cite your sources. Now let’s talk about how to do it.

I’m going to teach you to use a citation style called APA style, developed by the American Psychological Association. This style is commonly used in business writing. Rather than using footnotes, APA style uses something called in-text citation, which I think is a lot easier.

Here’s how it works.

You might use many different kinds of information--books, journal articles, newspaper articles, library databases. Every time you use information from a source in your paper, you will write a reference for that source.

For example, this is what a reference looks like for a journal article. The reference includes several pieces of information. For a journal article, we have the author, the date, the article title, the journal title, the volume, the issue, and the page numbers. All of these elements will help your reader locate the original journal article.

Here’s an example of a reference for an industry survey from a library database. This reference is a little different. It includes an author, a date of publication, the title of the industry survey, and the name of the database from which it came.

Later in this tutorial, I’ll show you where you can find examples of references for all kinds of resources.

You will write a reference for each source you use, and then arrange all your references in alphabetical order—like this.

This list of references goes at the end of your paper.

It shows all the sources you used in your paper.

Now let’s look at how you cite to these references in the text of your paper.

As you’re writing, every time you include facts or information from one of your sources, you simply insert the author’s name and the publication date in parentheses, like this.

If you use a direct quotation, you should also give the page number, like this.

If you include the author’s name in the sentence itself, then you need include only the date in parentheses.

And if you use the same source later in the paper, it’s no problem. Just give the author’s name and date again.

Here’s how this works. When someone reads your paper and comes across a citation, they can simply go to your list of references and look under the author’s name to see the full reference. What if there’s no author? Then you use the first few words of the title instead, as shown here.

The tricky part is figuring out how to format your citations. To help you with that, I’ve prepared a guide with lots of examples.

To get to the guide, go to the Business Research Assistant website and click “Cite sources.”

Let’s go there now. [http://researchguides.uvm.edu/business]

Here we are at the Business Research Assistant.

And here’s the link for “Cite Sources” -- and here’s the guide.

Notice all the different types of sources and the recommended format for the references.

Let’s review.

Thanks for watching. I hope this was helpful. As always, if you have questions, please ask a librarian. You’ll find us at the reference desk, and we’re eager to help!

 

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Connect off campus

University of Vermont students, faculty, and staff can access subscription resources ( ) off campus by following these instructions.

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Read The Wall Street Journal for free

(If you need access to other newspapers or to older issues, please contact a librarian.)

Howe Library provides two options for reading the current Wall Street Journal:

  1. In Print: Papers for today and the last 30 days are shelved on the second floor of Howe Library. Turn right at the top of the main stairs.
     
  2. Online: Articles are available through our ProQuest database subscription “Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition” (available to UVM affiliates only).Working from a computer off campus? Connect off campus
    NOTE:  The database includes articles only; it does not include advertisements or illustrations.

    The search screen will look like this:
    Screen shot of database search screen

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Find NAICS/SIC industry codes

How can I find the code(s) for an industry?

Check the North American Industry Classification System at https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2017

It's best to NOT use the keyword search box. Instead, browse for codes by clicking any of the two-digit sectors. Or use the printed "2017 NAICS Manual" (shelved in Howe Reference at HF 1042 .N67) and look in the alphabetical index under all the words that could describe the business.

If you need an industry code from the older Standard Industrial Classification Manual 1987, consult the book shelved in Howe Reference at HF1042.A55

 

What is an industry code?

An industry code is a number that represents an industry or type of business. These codes were developed by the U.S. government to make it easier to group businesses into categories called "industries" and to collect information about those industries.

Until 1997, the government used the Standard Industrial Classification system (often called "SIC"). SIC codes are four-digit numbers. The government now uses a system called North American Industrial Classification System ("NAICS"). NAICS codes are five- or six-digit numbers. Some information sources still use the SIC system.

For example, the SIC code for the ice cream manufacturing industry is "2024." The NAICS code for the same industry is "311520."

 

Why do I need to know industry codes?

Many business information sources are arranged by NAICS or SIC codes, so it's helpful to know your code(s) to find the information you need.

 

Eight-minute video on industry codes:
what they are, how to find them, and why they make research easier

Screenshot of videoFinding and Using NAICS Industry Codes

Filetype: Video

Time to completion: 7:44 minutes

Captions: yes

Hi! I’m Trina Magi, a reference librarian at The University of Vermont, and I’m here to help. In this eight-minute video, you’ll learn about industry codes—what they are, how to find them, and how they can make your research easier. First of all, what’s an industry?

It’s a group of all the companies that are engaged in the same business. For example, Honda, Toyota, Ford, and others comprise the industry that makes cars.

The US government and private firms collect a ton of information about industries. To organize all that data, they needed to decide what to call each industry. The English language often has several words to name the same thing. For example, is it car manufacturing or automobile manufacturing? Do we call these people doctors or physicians? Are these sneakers? Running shoes? Athletic Footwear?

To make everything more clear and consistent, the US government assigns official names to industries. And for each name, there’s a six-digit code that goes with it—like this. There’s an industry with the official name “Women’s Clothing Stores.” And that industry was given the numeric code 448120.

These codes are called NAICS codes. NAICS stands for “North American Industry Classification System.”<

NAICS codes are not just random numbers. Each part of the number means something. They are kind of like telephone numbers.

In this telephone number the first three digits—802—mean you’re calling someone in Vermont. But that’s not specific enough, so we add another three digits. That gets us to the UVM campus, but it’s still not specific enough. We have to add four more digits to get to a particular phone—in this case, it’s the phone at the library reference desk. Industry codes are similar.

Here’s the NAICS code for the tortilla manufacturing industry -- 311830

Just like a phone number, each part of the code has meaning, and the meaning gets more specific as you add digits.

31 indicates this a manufacturing industry

1 gives us a hint about what is manufactured—food. But what kind of food?

The 8 tells us it’s either bakery items or tortillas.

And the 3 finally narrows it down to tortillas.

In this case, that’s as specific as the US government decided to get, so the zero at the end is just a placeholder.<

Now you may be thinking “So what?” “Who cares?”

Well, if you’re doing research on an industry, knowing its NAICS code can help make your searches more efficient and precise. In fact, many business databases encourage you to search by NAICS code. Let’s go online so I can show you some examples.<

Here’s a library database called Business Insights Essentials. Notice that if I change the search box to “Industry,” it invites me to enter a NAICS code.

Here’s Mergent Archives. It also allows you to enter a NAICS code.

And here’s a final example -- IBIS World. If I type in the code for tortilla manufacturing—311830—it quickly gives me a precise search result that leads to an in-depth industry report.

So that’s why it’s useful to know your industry code. Now let’s talk about how to find these codes.<

First, go to the Business Research Assistant at researchguides.uvm.edu/business. I’ll pause a moment in case you want to write down that URL.

Once you’re at the home page, click the link that says “Find NAICS/SIC Industry codes,” and then click here.

You can try searching by keyword on the left, but it doesn’t always work. For example, if I type “airlines,” I don’t get good results. That’s because the official industry name is NOT “airlines.”

Since my keyword search didn’t work, I’ll try browsing instead. I’m guessing that airlines will be under the “transportation and warehousing” sector, so I’ll click that and look down the list.

Here’s what I’m looking for—"Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation.” That’s actually the official name for this industry, and 481111 is the NAICS code. It’s a good idea to click here and get a description of the industry just to make sure it matches what you’re looking for.

Be careful and thoughtful when looking up codes. We just found the code for the industry that actually flies the planes and transports people. But if I were looking for the industry that builds the planes, that’s a different industry. Instead of going into the “transportation” sector, I would go into “manufacturing” and browse the list.

Also, realize that some industries are just too new or too small to have an official name and code. And sometimes small industries are grouped together with others in a catch-all category. Let me show you an example of that: I’m going to 339920, the code for “sporting and athletic goods manufacturing.”

Here’s a description of the industry. Notice the variety of sporting goods included here. If you wanted information about ski manufacturing, you’d have to use this industry code, even though it includes many other things you’re not interested in.

To summarize,

1. Industries are groups of companies engaged in the same business

2. The US government gives official names and numeric codes to industries

3. Knowing an industry code makes searching easier

4. And, you can find industry codes by going to the Business Research Assistant website.

This has been a quick introduction to industry codes. If you need help, the librarians at the reference desk are eager to provide assistance. You can reach us in person, by phone, or by email. From the Business Research Assistant, just click the “Need help?” link to get in touch.

Thanks for watching, and good luck with your research!

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Determine if a company is public or private

What's the difference between "public" and "private"?

Public companies are those whose ownership shares are regulated and sold to the public on the open market. Although many of the largest and most well-known companies are public, the vast majority of companies in the United States are not. Disclosure laws require public companies to reveal information that would affect the financial decisions of investors, such as the company's financial statements or the fact that the company is facing a lawsuit. Because of these laws, it is much easier to find information about public companies. Public companies are sometimes called "publicly held."

Private companies are owned by a limited group of individuals, usually the principals in the company (for example, the founders, members of their families, key employees). Shares of ownership may be sold or transferred to anyone the owner chooses, but there is no marketplace for buying and selling these shares. Because private companies are not subject to the same disclosure laws as public companies, it is often very difficult to find information about them. Private companies are sometimes called "closely held."

 

How can I determine if a company is public or private?

Here are several suggestions. You may need to try more than one of these:

  • Try to find the company's Web site and look for a link called "investor relations" or similar heading. Many public companies will provide information here about the stock exchange on which their shares are sold. If the company's stock is sold on an exchange, it's a public company.
  • Go to EDGAR, the free Web database provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at http://www.sec.gove/edgar.shtml. Click "Search for company filings" then "Company or fund name..." and enter the company name. If you find reports in EDGAR, that means the company is public.
  • Look up the company in a library database called Business Market Research Collection, which contains Hoover's Company Profiles. Type the company name in the search box labeled "Company/organization." You may get several results; choose the one that looks like the main, parent company, and click "full text." On the "Company Overview" section under the heading "Key Information," look for "Company Type" to see if the company is identified as a public or private company.
  • Look up the company in Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies, located in the Howe Library Reference Stacks, HG4057.A1 W373. Ward's will tell you whether the company is public or private.
  • Ask for help at the reference desk in Howe Library.

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Screen companies

What is company screening?

"Company screening" means to generate a list of companies that meet a set of criteria. For example, you might want to know which companies are located in Vermont, are in the health-care industry, and have more than 30 employees.

 

What is the purpose of company screening?

Company screening can help you identify competitors or substitutes, companies in which to invest, potential business partners, or potential customers in the case of business-to-business marketing.

 

How do I generate a screened list of companies?

The library offers several databases that allow you to indicate criteria of interest and generate a list of companies (or mutual funds) that meet those criteria:

Business Insights: Essentials
Under "Companies," select "Company Finder."

D & B Hoovers
Click "Build a Company List."

Mergent Intellect
Use "Advanced Search."

Mergent Online
Click "Advanced Search."

Morningstar Investment Research Center
Click "Screen for Stocks," "Screen for Funds," or "Screen for ETFs."
IMPORTANT: Click "End Session" when done so others can use the database.

Nexis Uni
Under "Discover Topics," click "Business" > "Company Dossier" > "Create a Company List."

Uniworld Online
For international companies only.
 

The following print reference books list companies by industry and/or geography:

Ward's Business Directory of U.S. Private and Public Companies
Reference Stacks, HG4057.A1 W373

Vermont Business Directory
Reference Desk, HF5065.V5 V45

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Locate books using call numbers

What are call numbers?

Howe Library uses the Library of Congress call number system to organize books.

A call number is like the "address" of the book. It tells us exactly where to shelve the book, and where you can find it. Books about similar topics are shelved together, in the same "neighborhood."

Call numbers start with one or more letters representing the subject. For example, in the call number for the book Notable Corporate Chronologies, HD 2721 .N67, "H" represents "social sciences" and "D" represents "industries." The numbers and/or letters that follow give more detail about the content of the book.

 

How do I use call numbers to find books in the library?

To find a book by call number. . .
Example:  REF HD 2721 .N67

example of a call number

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Understand marketing data

When using sources of marketing data, you may encounter the following terms:

Demography is the study of human populations and the changes brought about by fertility (birth rates), mortality (death rates), and migration (movements and location of the population). Demographic data (sometimes called demographics) are characteristics that describe a population including age, marital status, income, race, sex, housing type (e.g., rented or owned), education level achieved, and more.

Psychographics refers to market research or statistics that describe population groups by psychological variables, values, attitudes, beliefs, or opinions.

Consumer expediture data and consumer behavior data refer to information about a population's past spending behavior, a population's level of participation in various activities, or the way consumers make choices and act.

Index numbers are used in many sources of marketing data. Index numbers help you easily compare a particular subset of the population to the population overall. The number "100" is the "base" and represents the overall population. A number higher than 100 for a given subset of the population means that the subset is more likely than the population overall to hold that belief/interest or exhibit that behavior.

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Print a list of sources

Once you've generated a list of suggested sources in the Business Research Assistant, here's how you can print the list:

With your cursor anywhere in the list, right click and select "This Frame" > "Print Frame."

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