Sophie Bury, Head & Business Librarian, Bronfman Business Library
Published Tuesday October 29th, 2013
Conducting company research can be challenging. It is not always clear where to go for information beyond the company’s web site. Obtaining private company information offers its own special set of challenges. There are many resources out there on the free-web that provide company information but which ones can you depend upon? And even when you know the library offers databases of relevance, how do you know where to start when the list of databases available is so long?
We know this is that very time of year where a range of business assignments are coming due that require our students to do company research including pulling information from secondary information sources. We know these assignments take quite a few different forms as we experience them when helping students with research in-person, and through e-mail, chat and phone. These assignments include writing and researching business plans, organizational analysis assignments, CSR (corporate social responsibility) and TBL (triple-bottom line) focused projects, marketing plan projects, and finance-focused assignments, e.g. analyzing company dividend policies, corporate spin-offs, capital structures and more.
When our business research experts at the library provide assistance (see all research help options on our web site), time and time again, we are pointing students to our newly minted company research guide, shown below, which both simplifies and breaks down the fundamentals of company research by organizing links to key resources and tips in to easily browsable categories and sub-categories. This guide includes library databases, print library sources, and recommended open web sources. We tweeted about this recently but here’s more nitty gritty.
This guide points you to information resources to help you research publicly-traded companies, private companies and non-profit companies. It steps you through researching the competitive environment for a specific organization, e.g. identifying competitors, and obtaining market share, as well as researching the organizational structure and culture of an organization and looking at the regulatory environment. It also provides pointers on how to find annual reports and filings for publicly-traded companies, in addition to analyst reports.
Financial research is a focus of many company-research assignments. This research may take many forms and can be complex. For this type of company research we have a standalone finance guide, linked to under the finance tab shown above in the company research guide. This guide shows you how to find and use resources for researching stocks, bonds, financial statements, ratios and benchmarks, corporate change and ownership, and specialized financial databases such as Bloomberg and Datastream.
To wrap up there is much to draw on, so let us help you through assignment crunch time with our new company research guide and the many other guides we have to offer. Happy researching!