Students have often lamented to me that they wish they could find on their own the answers to their questions. The library is so confusing it’s hard to know where to start etc.
In response, we’ve created a business FAQ. Inside this knowledge-base are close to 300 commonly-asked business questions and their answers. The best way to use the knowledge-base is ask about the core of your question. That is, it won’t be able to tell you the answer to “What was Apple’s balance sheet in 2008″. However, if the core of what you’re looking for is where to find balance sheets or financial statements, ask “where do I find a company’s financial statements” and that should pull up your answer.
You can also submit a question to be answered via the FAQ as well.
Have you ever found an article in an EBSCO database, grabbed the link from the URL bar only to discover days later that the link in broken (and that perfect article you found irrevocably lost)? Perhaps you thought you’d figured it all out when you click ‘permalink’ but then that still didn’t seem to work. You just want to send a link to yourself to look at later, why is the world making this so hard?
Although we’re not able to make it any easier for you (maybe just save the PDF if you can), we now at least have a video explaining how to properly make links work. Although this video is intended for your professors (so when they want to share a link to an article with you, you sponge of knowledge, they can), the first half of the video is applicable to everyone.
The main thing to keep in mind is that they need an authentication tag or else they won’t work off-campus. Take a look at our video here:
For ease of cutting and pasting, I’ve included the the links mentioned in the video here:
Happy (belated) new year! I’ve gotten some questions recently about researching failed brands. These are some of my favourite questions because I get to learn about all these crazy products (my favourite one to date is Pepsi AM–coffee has caffeine….Pepsi has caffeine…well I think you can see where that led to).
However researching why a brand failed can be tricky — particularly if the brand bombed before the mid-1990s. It’s hard to imagine a time when everything wasn’t online (and it’s hard to imagine now that not everything is) but articles on brand failures typically are of their time. That is, if a product failed in 1992, lots of articles would be published in 1992-1994 but thereafter it would become a bit of a footnote (unless it was a HUGE failure like the new Coke). Why the mid-90s cut-off matters is that prior to then, most articles haven’t been digitized. You may be able to locate the abstract/summary of an article but not the entire article. As such, you’ll then have to use our catalogue to figure out if McGill owns the PHYSICAL copy of that journal (crazy I know!). Often times Advertising Age will come up in these searches and you’ll be pleased to know that we own the entire physical run of Advertising Age back to 1970. At least you won’t have to battle with microfiche.
Typically the resources I’ve been suggesting for locating articles have been Business Source Complete and ABI Inform. I’ve also pointed out that the company’s annual reports might have interesting commentary (usually the company will announce new products in their annual reports). Once again the mid-90s cut-off is important. If the brand was launched post-1997, Mergent Online should have all the company’s annual reports. If it was launched prior to that though, check out Proquest Historical Annual Reports.
‘Tis that time of year when thousands go forth and seek out gifts for their loved ones. I’ve listened to several podcasts lately that have discuss the economics of Christmas and the holiday season. This led me to think about the consumer behavior surrounding gift buying. How do people make these purchase decisions? How much do they usually spend? When do they typically do their shopping? What factors influence their decisions? Etc.
This is a question I get often from marketing students (not necessarily about gift buyers but about a particular demographic, like women in their 50s, or people who buy chocolate bars etc). Finding out WHO is buying your product is the first step but naturally marketers will then want to know more about the HOW, WHEN, and WHY of product purchases.
Like all questions I try to address on this blog, there’s no easy answer. In this case I usually refer students to the academic article literature.
Good places to start are our friends Business Source Complete and ABI Inform. Using words like consumer behavior (note the American spelling!) in conjunction with words like holidays or Christmas or gift giving we pull up some interesting results.
Another article resource to consider if Psycinfo since consumer behaviour falls within the realm of psychology as well.
The thing about articles is that don’t usually answer your question in a tidy way. There’s often great nuggets of information contained within the articles but you may have to go digging to discover exactly what it is you were looking for. You will also have to adjust your search as you go along. Consumer behavior and purchase decisions are complex processes so you may have to isolate the metrics you’re interested in (e.g. price, colour, music, recommendations, choice etc).
Another good first step is to check out consumer behaviour books. These will often provide nice overviews of consumer behavior and purchase decisions (from which you can then delve more deeply by searching the article literature). Two books that I see often on reading lists on these topics are:
I wish you all a pleasant gift-giving season and I’ll see you in the new year!
A lot of my posts recently have been inspired by questions I’ve received at the desk or through email and for which, I have to admit, locating information is tricky.
Locating information on the supply chain or a particular company or industry falls into that category. Like all good tricky questions, there’s no one source that will provide the perfect set of information but rather it has to be gleaned from various sources and through trial and error. There are five primary sources I’d recommend for researching this type of question:
- Why Google Books? Because often supply chain information on an industry or a company will comprise one very tiny chart or section of a book. If you were to search a library catalogue, there’d be no way to know if that book contained the chart or information you were looking for. Simply typing in Google Books something like ‘supply chain and food industry’ will help you isolate chapters/sections of a book which might be relevant. If the section you wish to read isn’t available on Google Books, check the library catalogue.
Supply Chain 2020 Project (MIT)
- I stumbled upon this completely by accident when I was trolling the internet for supply chain information. This is fantastic project at MIT which includes a compendium of masters and doctoral theses on particular supply chains. Although they go into more detail than an undergraduate would require for most projects, the introduction section often provides the g information students are looking for. Various industries are covered (e.g. pharmaceuticals, apparel etc) and they often provide case studies on particular companies.
- This is a relatively new resource for McGill Library. What Mergent Horizon tries to do is provide at a company level, a list of customers and suppliers. For example, if we were to look up Apple, on the left we can select either ‘Customers’ or ‘Suppliers’. If we were to select ‘suppliers’, we would see companies that have been identified as Apple’s suppliers either by Apple itself (marked with a green arrow) or by external sources (marked with a purple arrow). You can do the same for customers (e.g. companies Apple supplies).
Business Source Complete & ABI Inform
- The drowning man’s last hope: articles. Both Business Source Complete and ABI Inform index 1000s of business journals, trade publications etc. If someone, somewhere in the publishing world has written about the supply chain of a particular company or industry, it would be in here.
Today we have a guest blogger from LexisNexis. The team at LexisNexis has kindly offered to give a little overview of some of the important attributes of this database. One small note to McGill users, the subscription is one user at a time so if you all crowd on to use it after viewing this post, you may have to check back again later.
With access to the Corporate Affiliations company profile database, business and management students have a gateway to a company directory providing a wealth of information regarding any corporation, division or parent company thereof. With 23 possible search options available, in searches of up to four parameters at one time one can research any company fitting a desired mold. This allows students interested in a specific career pursuit to create an accurate synopsis and evaluation of the corporate profile, regarding its history and probable future direction. The following information is available for scrutiny through access to this valuable database.
• Parent Company – It is often difficult to determine the actual parent companies due to frequent sell offs that take place. Does Kraft own Nabisco or is it the other way around? What happened to RJR? Are they still in control or were they acquired along with Nabisco or did they sell off to Kraft? The data base will remove all of those types of questions.
• Mergers and Acquisitions – After gaining insight into the actual parent company one will be able to track the history the corporation and the direction it is moving. What types of companies are being acquired or purchased. Are they narrowly focused or widely diverse? Technical or industrial? All of the answers are at the fingertips.
• Executive Moves – Who came from what industry and position into the corporation of interest? Where did the former executives go to and why? Additional pertinent information is revealed within the corridors to aid in the career path.
• Risk Taking – Is the company a risk taker or does it historically sail only in safe waters. Is it inclined to do business off shore? If so, where?
This tool is useful for company research as well as career exploration. To access Corporate Affiliations, click here.
Guest post provided by LexisNexis Corporate Affiliations
I’ve had a number of students ask me lately about maps and demographic. Their questions often take the form of wondering if there’s a map out there that will easily and visually represent a particular data point. For example, is there a map that shows the income levels of various Montreal neighbourhoods? Students (and marketers) usually want to use this sort of data to inform their target base and visual data makes comparing across neighbourhoods, cities, provinces etc much easier.
There are two primary free web-based resources for this kind of information in Canada. They are: Community Information Database and GeoSearch 2006 and 2011. The Community Information Database is by far the easiest of the two to use. Simply click ‘start mapping’ and begin selecting the type of data you want to have displayed (e.g. crime, income, language etc) and then use the small map on the right, to zoom in on a particular region. The only drawback to this resource is that it only gets down to the level of census subdivisions (which is broadly defined as municipalities or cities).
To dig deeper (for example, to view differences within a city), you’ll have to use the GeoSearch tool. GeoSearch is a tool compiled by Statistics Canada using census data. The 2006 GeoSearch Tool has more demographic data options however the 2011 GeoSearch (as the year suggests), is much more recent. Note that the Community Information Database takes information from the 2006 census.
GeoSearch is a little clunky. You have to select what level you want the data to appear at (census division, census tract etc). However certain selections will be greyed out until you zoom in sufficiently. Census tracts are the most specific region divisions and only appear as an option once you’ve narrowed in on a particular city. You’ll then be able to select which ‘thematic map’ you want to view (i.e. which demographic data).
Once you’re viewing your map, you’ll have a better idea of where to set up your business, mail your flyers etc depending on what criteria you established for your customer base.
During the great recession (and you can still hear rumblings of it today), executive compensation became a hot button issue. People were outraged at the enormous sums these people seemed to be making. My post here today isn’t to wax poetic about the morality of executive compensation but rather illuminate how to locate executive compensation because it’s out there, for free. So while these executives may not come without a price the information on their salaries definitely does.
The primary two places to look for salary information is on SEDAR (for Canadian companies) and EDGAR (for American). These are websites where all public companies filings can be located. In SEDAR, they’re located in a filing called a Proxy Circular. In EDGAR, they’re called Proxy Statements. In there you should find the compensation for the companies top executives (in all forms: salary, stock options etc). In both cases, you need to first search for the company and then either select the appropriate filing or browse through the results for the proxy forms.
The other filings can be quite illuminating but that’s a topic for another post. In the meantime, take a look and see what all the fuss was about.
August seems to be new database month here at McGill. Following my post a couple weeks ago about access to FT.com, we now have access to a new database called Statista.
Statista is sort of a one-stop shop for statistics. Although it is particularly known for its market and ecommerce statistics it’s sort of a grab bag for all kinds of stats.
The easiest way to navigate the database is by simple keyword searching (for example searching ‘cloud computing’ or ‘music downloading’ etc). It then breaks down results by two categories: statistics, and ‘studies & reports’ (which of course, also contain stats themselves). You can also narrow down reports by geography, topic, and date.
Statista itself doesn’t write any reports or compile its own data but rather finds data from other sources and puts it together in an easily searchable package.
A useful counterpart to the popular eMarketer but broader in focus. Happy researching!
The library is happy to announce that we now subscribe to FT.com. FT.com provides full access to all articles from the Financial Times as well as blog content not located in the print edition.To access the full features of the website, sign up using your McGill email.
You can also view the website on your mobile device by downloading their apps as well as sign up for RSS feeds.
For those of you who prefer the traditional paper layout, FT.com has an ‘epaper’ version on their site. To locate it, go to ‘Tools’–>epaper. This will allow you to view a scanned image of the paper online.
One final feature is the FT Lexicon. This is an online dictionary of finance and current events terms. Sign up for the RSS feed to receive a word of the day alert.