Step 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.
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
Create 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
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"
As 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
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.
Credo Reference This link opens in a new window
Use this database to understand basic concepts taught in your courses. It's also a great database for the first step in your research process. It contains short articles from encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks and other reference sources on a wide range of subjects. Get started on your assignment or research project by learning about key people, places, dates, events, concepts, and ideas related to your topic.
MasterFILE Complete (EBSCO) This link opens in a new window
Find content from full-text general-interest magazines and newspapers, with content that includes essays, short stories, and poetry. Also find journal articles and reference books, in a wide range of subjects including business, health, fashion, sports, personal finance, and more.
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?
NOTE: 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
- 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 topic
- 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.
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.
Business Writing & Citations
Connect with the Learning Commons Writing Center for help with putting together your written assignment or submitting your assignment and having someone look it over before you turn it in.