Module Two - Business information sources

Business information

Business information is concerned with companies, theories, markets, trade, governments, finance and management. It is a volatile area of study, and developments can take place daily, or have their origins in the century before last.

Business information comes in many formats which can depend on the currency of the event dealt with.

Take a look at the publication cycle showing the development of published information through time.


ACTIVITY: Scroll down to view some of the various sources of information available. Move your mouse over the various types of information formats and sources.

Identify resources

It is often hard to identify which resources may provide you with the best information for your research.  Do you need an overview of a topic; current news; indepth analysis; case study material; industry profile; legislation or statistics? Your assignment question will usually give you some clues as to where to start your search.

ACTIVITY: This chart will help you decide what is likely to be the best information source for each purpose. Choose from the drop-down list below to see when different sources of information are appropriate.

Evaluate resources

When you search for information, you are going to find lots of it ... but is it accurate and reliable?  You will have to determine this for yourself, and you can use the following principles as a guide.  Remember that different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Beyond the web

Students often use search engines such as Google when doing research. You should be aware that there are limitations to searching only the web. See the table below for a summary of the differences between sources found freely on the internet and those only accessible through Library databases.

When using search engines the advanced search features provide more search options and better results.

 Library DatabasesInternet
Information is accurate, and has been checked prior to publication yes           not always
Editorial policy is clearly stated so it is easier to identify biasyes           not always
You can identify the authority of the author yes           not always
High quality resources are available to you without passwords, memberships or chargesyes           not always
Article will usually include a reference list yes           not always
You can search a range of resources in a subject area yes           not always
You can identify and verify all sources being searched yes           not always
It is easy to search for company profiles, country information, industry reports yes           not always
Search can include older published material yes          
(Some databases go back to the first issue of the journals)
(Patchy and only if you know where to look)
Link is permanent and stable yes           not always
You can do complex searching yes           not always
You can limit search to type of resource, such as a scholarly article or full-text only yes           no           
You can limit accurately by publication date yes           no           
You can search up-to-date information yes          

They are/it is quick and easy to search Sometimes

Social media as a source of business information

Other sources can be used to find and track business information, such as marketing strategies, company profiles, customer perceptions etc. These sources include social networking sites, blogs, Twitter, YouTube and the like.

Why would you use this type of search? To track what is being said about a product, a company, a person, an event as it happens. You can see what is 'trending', or set up alerts on topics of interest, or monitor responses to a posting.

The following tools allow for real-time searching across multiple social media sites (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, video, images).

You can search Renoun (Beta format) to find out about social media activity for a published story. This social media search engine will show how often a story has been shared on social media platforms.

Social networking sites

Blogs - search engines


Video - search engines


Copyright Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest

Test yourself

Some questions may have more than one correct answer.

1. What is the main factor influencing the publication cycle?

2. Why do you need to consider using the library resources before the internet?

3. The best places to search for current information on a company would be

4. What are the most important criteria to consider when evaluating information resources

5. What does peer reviewed mean when describing a journal?

6. How can you decide how authoritative a website might be?

The list at end of a document which includes only those sources actually mentioned (cited) in the document.

a serious, detailed, research-based study of a subject.
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