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Topical Guides: Business Research

Business Research > 4: Supporting Data, Documents & Artifacts

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4A: Types of Resources

Data (such as facts or statistics), documents, artifacts (objects) and biographical information related to your topic will provide support, evidence or credence to your research thesis or claims. The best source for your project will depend on what type of information you are researching. For example, biographical information provides context to a subject's life. Data and statistics illustrate trends or provide support for ideas. Artifacts provide visual evidence for your findings.

It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of information: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are from the time period you are researching (from the historical context). These sources can include artifacts, statistics, autobiographies or newspapers. Primary sources often form the foundation for a research project. Examples are: Autobiographies of entrepreneurs, a company's financial records, balance sheets from a non-profit organization, etc.

Secondary sources may also form a foundation for research, but more often these sources provide additional support for your ideas. They include Web pages, articles, or contemporary books. The key distinction between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources interpret primary sources. Textbooks, biographies, and book reviews are good examples of secondary sources.

4B: Examples

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

Bureau of Labor Statistics data is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.  The most up-to-date labor economic and statistics can be found here, in an easily navigable Web site.  Browse numerous topics, including current wages, safety and health, employment and unemployment, demographics, and business costs.

SEC Filings & Forms

Database of publicly available filings submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Includes search tools for quarterly and annual reports (10-Qs and 10-Ks), prospectuses, mutual fund filings, ownership reports, executive compensation statistics, and other resources.

Data.gov - Business Data and Tools

Resources for finding a variety of business data from government agencies.

Hoover's Online (OSU access)

Key resource for finding financial, historical information and annual reports for companies. Also provides information for personal finances,business travel and career development.

4C: How to Find More


The official U.S. Government portal to over 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. It is a source for finding government documents, reports, and statistical data from a variety of federal sources. Search by key word or use the topical index to browse your way through the documents.

Google Book Search

A beta search tool with scanned pages from thousands of all types of books contributed to Google by publishers and libraries. Your keywords can be searched within the full text of books. Only a limited number of pages can be viewed online for books under copyright restrictions. In these cases, see if OSU or an OhioLINK library own the book for borrowing. Books that are no longer under copyright restriction can be read and printed in their entirety online.

Oxford Reference Online (OSU access)

A resource (available to the OSU community by means of subscription) of about 100 dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press. It is a fully-indexed, cross-searchable database of these books.

OSU Library E-Book Collections (OSU access)

These collections are available through the OSU library subscriptions. All titles in these collections can be found through the library catalog, but by connecting directly to a collection, topics and names are searchable within the books.



See what filings exist for the grocery store chain Kroger by doing a search in SEC Filings & Forms .

Pop Quiz

Which of the following is NOT a primary source?

Correct answer: [NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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