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Welcome to American University Library's research guide for the study of business.  

Getting Started with Your Research

Here is a quick primer to help you during your academic career and beyond! To effectively use our databases when you are researching business topics, it is best to think about these three questions.

1. What is it that you are researching? Is it a company, an industry, a management concept, a regulation, etc.?

2. What is the context? Are you looking for internal (e.g., financial numbers, reports or press releases) or external (e.g., newspapers, analyst reports, consumer behavior) information? Do numbers or opinions matter?

3. What is the scope? Are you looking at an organization? An industry? A country? What is the time frame? Today? Last five years? Next ten years?

Framing Your Research Question - Some Examples

What are the top performing soft drink brands in France? 

This is an industry question. To answer it, we need objective performance data (external) that covers the last several years. The solution is to find an industry database that covers consumer markets in France. Try Euromonitor Passport.

What are the names of Alcoa's subsidiaries in Chile and what do their balance sheets look like for the last ten years?

Here we have questions about a company. Specifically, we want information about the corporation's structure and its financials (internal).  Information on this level can occasionally be challenging to locate. One solution might be to look at Alcoa's annual report to see if it lists the Chilean subsidiaries, which can be found through our databases (try Mergent) or via the company's website.  Another is to use a library database that provides information about corporate structure and affiliations. Try Hoovers or Uniworld Online

I am looking for examples of higher education institutions using Total Quality Management (TQM)?

This is a case study example question. He we are looking for write-ups on the application of a specific management approach (could be external or internal). The best place to start researching this type of question is in an academic database, specifically those that cover scholarly journals and trade publications in the management field. Try ABI/Inform and Business Source Premier.

What has been the impact of Verizon Mobile's switch from offering consumers the option for unlimited data to only plans with monthly caps?

This both a company and an industry question. First, we might want to look into Verizon's financial performance (internal) before and after their change in pricing structure. If we do this, we are going to examine the changes in the industry over the same time (external). For the company information, try Mergent Online.  For the industry, it is looking at the trends and how the industry has responded, try IBISWorld. Are other competitor following Verizon? Numbers can be deceiving! So another layer of analysis might be wise: We can examine press coverage during and after Verizon's switch as well.  Press coverage is a great way to get the public's immediate reaction to any event. We have numerous news databases, some are better suited to business research than others. Try Factiva or Nexis Uni