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I-CORE Research Guide

About research

1. How do I know which database to start at? How do I know where to look?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect place to start. Whenever you are doing research my suggestion is that you first outline out what your questions are. Then think about what types of resources may give you an answer. A book? A journal article? A database? The library provides research guides, such as the I-CORE Research Guide to help you locate databases and other resources that can help you answer your questions. These guides also provides tips and tricks. However, no database is comprehensive so you may have to explore and try different resources.

2. How often are databases updated?

It depends on the database and the type of information. Article databases add new articles as soon as they are published. Market research reports may be updated annually or less frequently; however, they may have analyst updates in between reports.Many financial databases update in real time. The key is to make sure you find out when the information was published or last updated when doing research.

3. How many sources is enough? Too much? Which should we use the most of?

It depends. You have to judge whether you've thoroughly investigated and found enough information to analyze and draw sound conclusions. If you are finding the same information and repeated trends, then you can probably move on since you have confirmed your findings. You need to judge whether additional time researching will provide benefit. You don’t want to miss critical information; however, business projects often have timelines. The best guidance I can give as a former analyst is consider if you can justify your conclusions and recommendations. Can you address questions and counter arguments?

In regards to the question what types of resources you should use the most of, it depends on what you are researching. Likely you will use a combination of databases, articles, and web resources.

4. Why are databases so hard to navigate?

Because so many different people have designed them, and different people use them. Databases are designed to allow people to either be very detailed or very general in their search. Each database works a bit differently. It’s a good idea when using a new database to step back and think about how you might best conduct your search. Try using the search box but also consider looking to see if you can browse within the database. TIP: Click on “Help” because often you can locate brief tutorials that can get you started.

Using Google

1. Can I still use Google?

Yes. However, you should consider using additional resources besides Google. Reasons why you shouldn’t just use Google:

  • Google only provides access to the surface web.  Valuable business information is often behind a paywall, which subscription databases can access.
  • Google is in the business to sell information and advertising not to provide accurate information.
  • Google also presents search results on what they think you want to find based on your search history, so your search results may not be the best sources. Two people conducting the same search will often generate different results!
  • Anyone can post information to the internet. Always analyze information you find for authority and credibility.

2. Is Google a bad source?

Google can provide good information but it also can provide incorrect or limited information. Much of the data and information in the world cannot be found on Google. Make sure that you evaluate all information found on Google.

3. Is Google Scholar acceptable?

Yes, if you are looking for scholarly articles. Scholarly articles are written by academics for a scholarly audience (other academics and students). If doing business research this may or may not be the right type of source to use.

Searching for Articles

1. What's the difference between Business Source Complete & ABI/Inform Collection?

They are two different article databases that feature publications important for business. They have different journal holdings. For instance one database may subscribe to Harvard Business Review (Business Source Complete), while the other has access to the Wall Street Journal (ABI/Inform).

2. I’m have trouble finding articles. Help!

Try using keywords. Brainstorm terms that describe what you are researching. If you are using several keywords and getting 0 results, then you should broaden your search by using fewer terms. If you are getting too many results try filtering by date, publication type, journal title, or some other criteria. Or try adding an additional keyword to make your search more specific. If you are searching a phrase be sure to use “ “ around the phrase so that your results look for the two words together within the text.

3. How do you target specific articles that are relevant?

  • The best way to do this is to use keywords in your search. Write down the keywords that seem to work particularly well so that you can use them in other databases.
  • Use filters within the database. You can filter on year, publication or document type, NAICS code, ticker symbols, and many other criteria.
  • Advanced search in database is very helpful.

You will still need to read and evaluate to determine what is important and relevant. You will find articles that you do not care about and you may need to go a few pages into the search to find information that is relevant to you. Do not stop on the first two pages of search results! Try sorting your search by relevance (which is determined by the database, not you) and by date.

4. What is the difference between journals and trade journals?

Journals are all the magazines, newspapers, trade publications, and scholarly/academic journals that are published. They are serials so they publish many issues. Trade journals aka trade publications aka professional journals are a specific type of journal focused on communicating trends and professional practices around a specific industry or occupation. Articles in trade journals are often written by practitioners.