How to find out in business
The aim of this guide is to help you
find information in business. Whether you are
looking for information for a project or dissertation, or just
looking for some facts, figures, or addresses, this guide should
point you in the right direction. The guide is not exhaustive, but
the main sources of information are listed, especially those
available in Heriot-Watt University Library. Other useful sources on
related subjects may be found in the various other
Find Out guides.
If you would like further advice or assistance, please ask for help at the Enquiry Desk, contact your Subject Librarian, or email the Library's helpdesk.
To find out the latest news and happenings in the library visit the library blog InformS
The process of gathering information from published sources is often referred to as making a literature search. It is very tempting to rush into your search for information without planning exactly how you are going to carry out your search. Before you start your search for information, it is worth spending some time defining exactly what you are looking for. Are you looking for a piece of factual information, or do you wish to read a range of viewpoints on your topic? How much knowledge do you already have about the subject? Are you looking for a general introduction to the topic or a detailed discussion of a specific point? Asking yourself these questions can help you to decide what sort of information source is most appropriate for you to search.
There are various ways of searching the literature for information on your topic. It is worth doing some forward planning to get clear in your mind what you are looking for, and where you are most likely to find it. If you need help at any point in this process, contact your Subject Librarian. It may be worth taking the following steps:
- Remember that it takes time and effort to find information.
- Define your subject and your objectives.
- Discuss your topic with your supervisor who may be able to suggest various starting points.
- Look at any information already found as it may lead to further material.
- Decide which time period should be covered by the search.
- Decide how comprehensive the search will be. Do you want everything on your subject? In which case go through each of the sections in this leaflet systematically. Or can you exclude some sections and types of material?
- Look through the introductions to each section in this guide and decide which sources are likely to suit your needs.
- In each section the more general sources are listed first. If these are not specific enough, look in the more selective sources following. Always read any explanations of how to use a particular source.
- Think about your search profile - the keywords, subject headings, related terms, etc. - which you can look under in various indexes and lists.
- Keep good records. Note down the details of each reference as soon as you see it, even if you don't intend to look at it for weeks; also note where you found it so you can check back later. Keep accurate references to everything you read in a consistent format this will form the basis of your bibliography. You will find more details about citing your references in the Taking References section below.
Some useful books available in the library are:
Business research : a practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students / by Jill Collis and Roger Hussey.
Business research methods : a practical approach / by Sheila Cameron and Deborah Price.
Research methods for business students / by Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill
How to find information : a guide for researchers / by Sally Rumsey.
Researching and writing a dissertation : a guidebook for business students / by Colin Fisher and others
You will find many more by searching the Library catalogue
Note all references in full as you find them, even if you are not sure how useful they might be. Also, keep a note of where you find your references - you may need this if you apply for an inter-library loan. Keep your references in a database or notebook, or use services such as EndNote. EndNote is available for postgraduate students and staff from the IT Department. EndNoteWeb (a lite version of the package) is freely available to all members of Heriot Watt, and can be accessed within the Web of Knowledge. You can register for EndNoteWeb. Another free citation service is CiteUlike.
Proper referencing is essential to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of taking the ideas, writings or inventions of another person and using these as if they were one's own, whether intentionally or not. Plagiarism occurs where there is no acknowledgement that the writings or ideas belong to or have come from another source.
The University has produced a Student guide to Plagiarism. This gives a clear definition of plagiarism, examples of how to avoid plagiarism and how to reference the work of others:
For further details on making references and citations see:
PEAR: Cite them right : the essential guide to referencing and plagiarism
Referencing with the Harvard System
List of style
This has information on MLA , used in English and the humanities; APA, used in psychology and the social sciences; Chicago, used in history and some humanities; and CSE, used in biology and other sciences.
BRITISH STANDARD BS 1629:1989. Recommendations for references to published materials.
BRITISH STANDARD BS 5605:1990. Recommendations for citing and referencing material.
The Library runs regular workshops on citing and referencing and using EndNoteWeb.
Encyclopaedias and dictionaries are useful for getting a basic outline of a subject, and for finding keywords and subject terms which can be used when searching other sources. These are shelved in the Quick Reference section, at around 332.
Encyclopedia of leadership. Vol. 1-4
Key concepts in international business
DICTIONARY OF BANKING AND FINANCE TERMS
DICTIONARY OF BANKING AND FINANCE
DICTIONARY OF ACCOUNTING
DICTIONARY OF BUSINESS
LONGMAN BUSINESS ENGLISH DICTIONARY
We also have a large number of specialist dictionaries in the languages taught at Heriot-Watt - French, German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic - plus a small number in other languages. You will find these in the Dictionaries Room on Level 1.
Some sources include:
Provides a great deal of factual information about government, economics, culture etc in the UK, but with a substantial section on other countries of the world.
provides access 3 statistical databases, 7 journals and around 520 titles including:
Main economic indicators (short term economic indicators produced monthly for 30 member countries and a number of non member countries including Brazil, China, India, the Russian Federation and South Africa)
National Accounts of OECD Countries (produced on a quarterly and annual basis for OECD member countries)
OECD Economic Outlook (projections for a number of key economic variables over a two to two and a half year horizon, accompanied by analysis including chapters on the economic conditions and prospects in individual OECD member countries and selected non member economies and on topics of current interest in economic policy debates.)
OECD Economic surveys (review of individual countries economies, published every eighteen months to two years for OECD countries, also includes reviews of some non member countries)
Economic Policy Reforms: Going for growth (annual periodical which highlights developments in structural policies in OECD countries)
UK 2005 - THE OFFICIAL YEARBOOK OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Provides a factual overview of government policy and other developments in Britain. Contains a number of useful summary statistics.
THE CIA FACTBOOK
Invaluable brief overview of every county in the world including: population statistics, economy and economic outlook, trade etc.
THE ECONOMIST COUNTRY BRIEFINGS
Provides news, country profiles, forecasts, statistics and more.
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU):
Provides a constant flow of analysis and forecasts on more than 200 countries and eight key industries.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Content is organised by a variety of themes e.g. Energy, Electronic commerce, transition economies.
Provides a large number of statistics and data tables for all countries.
For more sources of facts and figures consult the following guides:
library catalogue to search for books
and eBooks on your subject or to find out if
we hold the book you need. A guide to
searching the catalogue is
You can also use other libraries, information on other libraries, links to their catalogues and access arrangements for Heriot-Watt staff and students are available from the following pages:
Libraries outwith Edinburgh
Two very useful catalogues to find books published on a particular topic are:
British Library Integrated Catalogue.
The British Library is the UK's national repository library. The BL receives a copy of most books and periodicals published in the United Kingdom.
COPAC (Consortium of University Research Libraries).
Unified access to the catalogues of over 20 of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland.
You can also use:
across a broad range
Google Book Search
Search the full text
of books to find
ones that interest
and limited extracts
may be available.
The UK branch of the well-known Internet bookshop also has a searchable database of books in print. Other booksellers websites may also be of use.
If you find details
of a book you wish
to read, but it is
library or Scottish
library, you may use
Service and we
will borrow a copy
for you from another
Journals are often the first place where new research findings are published and are therefore an extremely important source of information. Journals can be published electronically or in print. The majority of journals which the Library subscribes to are available electronically, print (hardcopy) journals in accounting, banking and finance are located on level 1 of the library.
Access to the full text of articles published in journals is normally only available if you or your University Library has a subscription to the journal. However some journals are open access journals whose articles may be accessed online by anyone without charge. A list of these journals is available from:
Maintained by LUND University Libraries, this service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals and aims to cover all subjects and languages. There are 4570+ journals in the directory.
You can find out what journals are published on your subject using the following resources:
This contains the titles of over 60,000 serials currently received by the British Library's Science, Technology and Business services and its Document Supply Centre, whose serial holdings embrace all subjects, including the humanities and social sciences, and all languages.
PubList.com is a directory of information about more than 150,000 publications and more than 8000 newspapers around the world.
Jourrnal citation reports
Accessed via: ISI WEB of Knowledge
Journal Citation Reports is a comprehensive and unique resource that allows you to evaluate and compare journals using citation data drawn from over 7,500 scholarly and technical journals from more than 3,300 publishers in over 60 countries. It is the only source of citation data on journals, and includes virtually all areas of science, technology, and social sciences.
To find relevant articles published in journals you need to search a database. A list of databases containing information on articles published in journals in business and related topics are available from the databases page.
You can also identify relevant articles published in journals using Search50. Search50 allows you to cross search some of the business databases rather than searching them individually. Search50 does not offer the sophisticated and flexible searching available through the individual database interfaces, but can be a starting point, if you don’t know where to begin searching for a topic.
If the article you need is published in a journal that the Library does not subscribe to, you may be able to consult a print copy at another library, consult Edinburgh Libraries or Libraries outwith Edinburgh for access arrangements to other libraries. Two very useful services to find out which libraries hold a particular journal are:
SALSER. The Serials Union Catalogue for Scottish academic and research libraries is a free tool to help locate journal titles held in Scotland.
SUNCAT. The Serials Union Catalogue for the UK research community is a free tool to help locate journal titles held in the UK.
You may also use the Inter-Library Loans service if we do not subscribe to the journal the article you require is published in. You can request either a photocopy or electronic copy of the article using the Inter-Library Loans Service.
Information on research papers or articles (and sometimes the full text) may also be available in open access archives or repositories. Open Access archives or repositories are digital collections of research articles that have been placed there by their authors. In the case of journal articles this may be done either before (preprints) or after publication (postprints). More information is available from research articles, preprints and postprints.
You can search the contents of open access archives and repositories using the following services:
Search across 103 UK academic eprints repositories.
OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories. OpenDOAR has a trial search service for the full-text of material held in open access repositories listed in the Directory.
Google and other internet search engines index the material held in open access repositories.
ROS: The Research Output Service
ROS is Heriot-Watt University's institutional repository.
It is very difficult to read or scan all new publications appearing in any subject area. For those, such as lecturers and postgraduates undertaking research, who need to know on a regular basis what is being published in their areas of interest, most databases allow you to save a search and be alerted via email or an RSS feed when new articles meeting your search criteria are added to the database.
You can also be alerted (by email or RSS feed) when the table of contents for particular journal(s) are released using the following services:
ZETOC- British Library's Electronic Table of Contents
Includes an email alerting service (Zetoc Alert), and an RSS feeds service (Zetoc RSS), to enable you to keep up-to-date with relevant new articles and papers.
ticTOCs journal tables of
Find thousands of scholarly journal Table of Contents (TOCs) from multi-publishers, view TOCs, export TOC Feeds to feedreaders, save TOCs for future current awareness.
More information is available from Keeping up-to-date
subscribes to a service called
Factiva which provides the
full text of 2,300+
The Financial Times (Searching the Financial Times)
The Wall Street journal
South China Morning post
The Daily Telegraph
You can search newspapers separately or search key publications from a specific country.
This is included as part of Web of Science, available through the Web of Knowledge
A printed Index of Heriot-Watt Postgraduate theses is available at the Service Desk. Postgraduate theses are not kept on the open shelves, so if you want to look at them you must request them at the Service Desk. Most theses can only be used in the Library, but if two copies are held, one may be borrowed. In other cases, ask the awarding School for a loan copy.
Electronic copies of postgraduate theses are available through ROS: The Research Output Service, and details are included in the Library catalogue.
See our guide on Theses and Dissertations for more information on theses from Scottish Borders Campus Library and theses from other Universities.
2 of the
051 GUI (Scottish Borders campus, previous edition at Edinburgh campus)
OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS
GUIDE TO OFFICIAL STATISTICS
GUIDE TO OFFICIAL STATISTICS (2000 EDITION)
Details of statistical publications produced by UK Government Statistics Service and other official organisations within the UK. It is divided into sixteen chapters, each focusing on a different subject area. Very detailed subject index. New edition published approximately every 5 years.
UK National Statistics
This site contains the latest comprehensive range of official UK statistics and information about statistics as well providing free access to a selection of recently released publications.
Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The latest edition 2005) covers government, international relations, defence, education and training, the labour market, social protection, health, crime and justice, religion, culture, communications and the media, sport, environment, housing, planning and regeneration, transport, the economy, public finance, international trade and investment, science, engineering and technology, agriculture, fishing and forestry, manufacturing and construction, energy and natural resources, and financial services. Information on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is included throughout, and in separate introductory chapters.
Can browse statistics by topic or search by keyword.
For unofficial sources see:
SOURCES OF UNOFFICIAL UK STATISTICS
Gives details of statistical publications produced regularly by organisations other than governmental bodies, e.g. trade associations, market research companies etc.
Market research can be undertaken by individual organisations about their own operations, or by specialised market research operations. Because of its commercially-sensitive nature much of this research is never published or made available to the general public. That market research which is published is often extremely expensive, because it has considerable commercial value. For this reason, many libraries purchase commercial market research sparingly, or not at all. It is extremely rare for this library to purchase individual market research reports. However, it is still possible to obtain some information about markets and published market research in this library.
Mintel is one of the UK's leading publishers of consumer market research, the library's subscription gives access to market reports in the following areas:
Consumer Goods Intelligence: Europe
Mintel Reports: UK
Market Intelligence: UK
Those reports not available in full text can often be found in the National Library of Scotland from their SCOTBIS service
Key Note is a UK based company publishing reports on 27 consumer, business and industry sectors. The Library has purchased access to selected reports from Keynote, listed in Your reports section.
The National Library of Scotlansd's SCOTBIS service provide access to a large collection of market research reports. you can find out which reports are available using their searchable index .
MarketResearch.com enables you to search for market research reports from a wide range of publishers and purchase individual reports or, in some cases, sections of reports. The full text of the report may be accessible from SCOTBIS.
MORI is the largest independently-owned market research company in the United Kingdom, particularly noted for its opinion polls.
In addition to the sources mentioned in this section, many newspaper or periodical articles may contain information about markets, or about market research. The Factiva database includes newspapers and trade journals which would be a good source of this information.
The popular Internet search engines, though very useful, don't index everything. They may not index some of the subscription-based services mentioned in this How To Find Out guide. If you use Google, note the Google Guide.
A tutorial which introduces you to key Business and management internet sources and helps you develop your internet skills is:
Internet for Business and Management is a free online tutorial to help university students develop their Internet research skills.
A more general tutorial on searching the internet is:
TONIC is an easy-to-understand, structured course, offering step-by-step, practical guidance on major Internet topics, ranging from basic through to advanced.
You might also find some of our workshops useful.
Some useful sites follow:
The Advanced Institute of Management Research was established in 2002 to "Significantly increase the contribution of and future capacity for world class UK research on management"
The Business, Management and Accountancy Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy based at Oxford Brookes University.
Carnegie Bosch Institute for Applied Studies in International Management
HBS Working Knowledge
This site features new work from more than 200 staff at Harvard Business school. Includes articles on leadership and management, entrepreneurship, strategy.
Lancaster University Management School Working Papers
Some useful sites follow:
Telephone: 0131 451 3215