Business research guide

Worthington Libraries provides a great deal of information for people interested in conducting business and industry research, in print and online.

If you're looking for business books, check the following call numbers:

  • 332 (financial economics, personal finance, investing),
  • 338 (production and industries),
  • 670 (manufacturing),
  • 658 (marketing).

Keep in mind that the nature of this information is such that not all companies and industries are represented equally. It's possible that in certain instances very little information will be available on a particular company.

In most cases, the following general rules apply. It is easier to find information on larger companies than smaller ones. Likewise, it is easier to find information on publicly owned companies than privately held ones. Companies that are subsidiaries of larger entities pose special problems. Often, information about subsidiaries is "absorbed" into the records of the parent companies. With all these factors to consider, it is a good idea to begin any company research by determining such things as size, location, ownership and hierarchy.

Business directories

These sources typically provide company addresses, phone numbers, sales and employment estimates and contact information. They are often a good place to begin researching a company, as they answer many of the basic questions that will help guide subsequent searching.

  • AtoZdatabases (database)
    AtoZdatabases offers an extensive directory of businesses, including detailed profiles, job opportunities and more. Updated monthly, it permits emailing and downloading of lengthy lists. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)
  • Book of Lists Revised annually. [R 338.74 BOO]
    Sometimes called the "Business First: Top 25," this publication features rankings of top central Ohio companies by industry and service.
  • D&B Million Dollar Directory Revised annually. [R 338.74 D (OWL)]
    A five-volume national directory that provides basic information about approximately 160,000 public and private companies. Indexes organize companies by industry and location.
  • D&B Regional Business Directory Revised annually. [R 338.7 DUN]
    This three-volume directory covers the central Ohio area, as well as parts of KY, MI and WV.
  • Harris Ohio Industrial Directory Revised annually. [R 670 HAR]
    This directory offers contact information, company size and more for over 20,000 industrial businesses throughout Ohio.
  • LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations Revised annually. [R 338.74 DIR]
    This eight-volume directory provides basic information on both private and public companies, including divisions, subsidiaries and affiliations.
  • Ohio Manufacturers Directory Revised annually. [R 670 OHI]
    You can look up businesses by industry, name, location, SIC number and parent company in this directory.
  • Reference USA (database)
    Reference USA is a national business directory with fully customizable searching that allows you to look up a company’s contact information, annual sales, size and more. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)
  • ThomasNet
    ThomasNet provides online access to the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers. The database is searchable by product or service, company name or brand name. Information includes a brief company profile, web address and a contact form.

Detailed company information, annual reports and SEC filings

In many cases, the information available from directories is just a starting point. If you need in-depth financial information, company histories or investment reports, Worthington Libraries has resources that can help. In general, the following sources cover fewer companies than the directories listed above, but they do so in much more detail. A number of these resources provide links to news stories, press releases and industry information.

  • Hoovers Online Corporate Information (database)
    Hoovers Online contains a tremendous amount of information, including company profiles, industry profiles and news sources. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)
  • U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission
    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website allows users to search for reports filed with the SEC by qualifying public companies. This includes annual reports, quarterly filings and more.

Local business news

Newspaper and magazine articles are a good place to find information about companies and industries. In addition to print subscriptions for the Wall Street Journal, the Columbus Dispatch, Business First and others, Worthington Libraries offers the following sources to help you locate business news. Additionally, websites such as Google News, CNN and Yahoo! offer business-specific news.

  • Business First
    This site offers both the current issue as well as a searchable archive.
  • The Columbus Dispatch Archive (database)
    This database makes it possible to search for locally produced Dispatch articles dating back to July 1985. It is often a great source for information on local business developments. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)

Market research and demographics

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a myriad of statistics, from employment trends to salary surveys to consumer spending.
  • Business Decision (database)
    This powerful demographic and marketing database contains consumer household information, market segmentation profiles, population forecasts and demographic data. Users can customize an area of study using the GIS mapping features. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)
  • Melissa Data
    A genuine treasure trove of geographic, demographic and statistical information, this free service from MelissaData includes lookups for ZIP codes, phone numbers, street names, school district maps, congressional maps and more.
  • SimplyMap (database)
    This database of over 30 million business lets you develop thematic maps and reports based on business, demographic and marketing data. You can select locations by zip code, census tracts or more, and choose from and rank by over 75,000 data variables. (Requires a valid Worthington Libraries library card for access outside the Library.)
  • The United States Census Bureau
    The Census Bureau provides a wide range of statistics. In addition to the traditional demographic profiles, they also provide a wealth of economic data.

Industry information

If you're looking for industry overviews and rankings, you can find them in Hoovers (see above). The following directories may include major companies in various sectors and their market share.

  • Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios Revised annually. [R 338.74 ALM]
    A variety of ratios are provided for industries arranged by SIC code.
  • CRB Commodity Yearbook Revised annually. [R 338 COM (OWL)]
    Each alphabetically-arranged entry contains an overview of a particular commodity's market and statistical tables. Coverage is international with emphasis on the U. S.
  • Manufacturing & Distribution U. S. A. Revised biennially. [R 338.4767 MAN]
    This three-volume set offers industry analyses, statistics and leading companies for industry by NAICS code.
  • RMA Annual Statement Studies [R 338.0973 RMA]
    This resource provides financial profiles of industries, including ratios organized by SIC code.

revised March 2017