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Business Division Faculty LibGuide

Provides links to Western Library resources for students and faculty in the Business Division

Business Research is a Process

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Help! I have no idea how I should even start a research project! What do I do?

  • First, understand that college assignments and research can be broken down in to individual pieces of a bigger process: 
    • A process of:
      • exploration - find out what information has been published about your topic
        • mostly you will NOT find one article that provides all the information you need
        • look for articles that touch on various aspects of your topic - revenue, demographic
          • sometimes all you will find is a sentence in one article or a paragraph in another
          • jot down this information, along with the title and database 
      • discovering what you don't know and what you need to learn  
      • identifying -  pieces of information from several articles that relate to your topic
      • evaluating the credibility of the information
      • analyzing the usefulness of the information to what you are trying to do
      • synthesizing (bringing together) the pieces information to complete your assignment or project

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How to Conduct Business Research : An Overview



  • Step 1: choose a topic you're interested in and curious about
  • Step 2: use search terms related to your topic find background information such as:
    • definitions and concepts (business management, entrepreneurship, etc.) and
    • basic facts/ideas (key people, business types, names, dates/timelines, places, history, etc.
    • use background information to identify an area you want to focus on
    • identify new search terms based on what you learn
  • Step 3: look for detailed research about your business topic
    • scholarly articles, data, statistics
  • Step 4: combine the knowledge you already have about your topic with the new knowledge you learned during the research process


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  • Take notes to keep track of what you learn
  • Link to the LibGuide below for note-taking strategies

(Your notes will help a lot when you pull together your assignment.)

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A more in-depth and step-by-step explanation of the research process is outlined in the box below.

Business Research Step-by-Step Details

ideas iconStep 1: Choose your topic
You may be assigned to write about a specific topic, in which case you can skip this step, or you may have be able to choose your own topic.  Hint: choose a topic that you really enjoy! It's actually fun to research topics you like.

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Step 2: Do background research

Start with the library database Credo Reference, and a basic keyword search

  • You are looking for:
    • the names of key individuals
    • the names of companies/businesses/industries
    • important dates, histories, or timelines,
    • important laws, policies, organizational structure,
    • important concepts and issues related to the  nature of the business or industries
  • Pay attention to Credo Reference features for clues to what's important about your topic
    • Mind Map (if there is one),
    • Key Concepts list beneath the description of the article on the results page
    • Related Searches and Subjects lists on the upper right of the article page

note-taking iconCreate a list of keywords and search terms as you find them for future searches:

  • business; business model; business management, etc.
  • industry - computer, auto, entertainment, etc.
  • consumer profiles
  • marketing; digital marketing
  • advertising

Start Broad and then Narrow Your Search

  • Broad topic: search terms alone (computers) to see lots of results 
  • Narrow topic: combine two or more search terms (computers AND industry) to see fewer and more focused results related to computers AND industry
    • example "microprocessors" or "software engineering" 

database filters iconAs you are researching jot down:

  • basic definitions
  • key facts (people, companies, organizations, places, dates, timelines. concepts or ideas) about your topics
  • key concepts, issues, or ideas (information that describes something about your topic) such as "microprocessors"


  • use Credo Reference again to find general information about microprocessors
  • use the business databases to find more specific information about microprocessors

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NOTE: Use the email or share tool on the article page to email yourself any articles you think might work for your project. It will save you time and energy, later. The email tool may allow you to send the citation along with the article. Be sure to choose the citation format you were assigned.

funnel narrow search icon    Step 3: Find and Evaluate the information you find about your topic

Use your list of search terms and look for information in Western Library's Business databases found in the following pages of this guide. These databases will help you find detailed or specific information about the area of your topic you chose to focus on.

Evaluate database articles: 

  • is the article current? when was it published? is it too old?
  • is the article relevant to your assignment or need?
  • is the author credible - why are they qualified to write about this topic?
  • is the information accurate? Verify the accuracy with other sources.
  • what is the purpose of the article? to educate? inform?
  • who is the audience? the general public? experts in the field? instructors? classmates?

email iconNOTE:  use the email or share tool on the article page to email yourself any articles you think might work for your project. Check the citation box to include it. Be sure to choose the citation format you were assigned. If there is no option to automatically send the citation along with the email, copy/paste it into the message box. Be sure the Full Text box is checked when using the Credo Reference Share Tool.

How to Read Your Articles

"The main idea in a text is not on the page, it's something in your head that you need to construct." 

Professor David Jolliffe 

Open the articles you emailed to yourself bulding blocks icon

  • Will they work for this assignment? Read only the articles that might work.
    • Notice patterns among your sources.
      • repeated ideas, themes, and topics repeated in different sources.
      • important concepts represent the main points, secondary points, and most common thoughts and beliefs about your topic. 
    • If you see something mentioned only once, it's probably not worth including. 

 Look at different perspectives on your topicdifferent perspectives icon

  •  you've probably formed your own thoughts about your topic, and have the sources to support it
  •  look for sources that show another perspective (hugely important).
    • provides pieces of the complete picture
    • shows understanding of the whole issue
    • avoids conformation bias, or being convinced your perspective is the only one.
      • confirmation bias lacks objectivity
    • shows the validity of your own beliefs, and that you understand why others may have different ideas. 

puzzle icon putting pieces together  Step 4: Put all the pieces together

This is the point where you start to apply your research to writing your paper, developing your speech, or creating your presentation or other project.

  •  explain all aspects of the topic or issue you’re talking about 
  • put everything together to show how you understand the whole situation,
    • including the small and nuanced points
    • show that "Points X, Y, and Z make sense because… "
    • also show that others consider perspectives "A, B, and C because…” 

If you're not 100% convinced about points X, Y, and Z and perspectives A, B, and C, retrace your steps, go back a step or two in the process and fill in the gaps, until you are.

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