Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Database: First Research

Sawyer Library has added another database that will make it easier for students and faculty to get quick snapshots of U.S. industries. Called First Research (alas, not the most descriptive name in the world!), it is owned by Dun & Bradstreet, aka D&B, and is a companion product to the company profile database, Hoover's.

When you enter the database you will notice that you can either browse and "expand" major industry sectors (in the blue bars), or use the search box just above. The default is to search by key word, and this works well. However, you will see tabs just above the search box that allow you to switch the search to SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) or NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code, which is a more precise way to search, especially when you are trying to put a real company in the context of their industry. (Check the company's profile in any number of resources and look for their "Primary SIC" to get a four digit code to use as their industry grouping.)

However, as indicated, the keyword search works well, usually ranking several industries by relevance. For example, if I type pizza, I am offered reports on Fast Food and Quickservice Restaurants, Restaurants, Food Distributors, Convenience Stores, and several other options. The reports offer a basic Overview and an additional section on Specific Issues and Trends. Usually there are also links to the websites of industry groups and trade magazines (however, these are not as useful as the materials you would get out of our high quality databases like Business Source Complete). Many reports also include a Quarterly Industry Update, a few data tables of things like employment figures, or links to specific Monthly News stories.

Another handy feature--look for the light blue tab in the top border--are the State (and Canadian Province) profiles which provide a "Big Picture" overview of the business and economic climate of specific locales.

Please note, First Research does not provide extensive or exhaustive information, but it is a useful snapshot for student researchers, or even for job seekers. You will want to combine First Research with a wide variety of other electronic resources. When doing industry research, do take a look at our very useful Industry Information Resource Guide that details other library databases and web and print resources that help fill in the picture.

One final note about the relationship between First Research and Hoover's. At this point, they do not adequately link between one another. If you are in Hoover's and click on the Industries tab, it does eventually search First Research content, but the search results are not an exact match nor are the First Research reports that you pull up in Hoover's exactly the same as those in the separate database. (They are usually briefer, without the add-on tables, links and updates.) Therefore, you are better served by searching both files if you are trying to find information on both companies and industries.

As with all of our databases, First Research is available to any current Suffolk student or faculty from anywhere you have an internet connection.

[FIND First Research on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "Business and Management" category.]

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