Commerce 1011: Business Studies
Introductory Research Skills for Business
This guide is intended to supplement the Moodle tutorial and quiz, with tips on finding, evaluating and citing sources for the research assignments in this course.
A) Finding Books
The Commerce books in the library are generally found on the 2nd floor book stacks, with call numbers starting from HB to HJ. The most efficient way to find books on your topic is to search the Library Catalogue, the first 'Quick Link' on the MTA library website.
To find books on a topic, keyword searching is an easy way to start, but subject searching may also be needed. Click on the Full "Catalog Record" link from the best books found to see the Subject terms used. Click on the subject terms listed to find more books on the topic.
Keyword Searching: (Searches author, title, table of contents where available, subject terms, etc.)
Narrowing a search: Use AND between two or more keywords to find books including both terms:
e.g. women and work
Broadening a search: Use OR to include books with alternate spellings, synonyms, or similar concepts:
e.g. women and (work or employment) -- (Note: use parentheses if combining AND & OR in same search string)
To search for a phrase (two or more words in that order): Use single quotation marks: e.g. 'minimum wage’
(NOTE: This differs from the more standard double quotes used in most article databases and search engines, including Google)
Use the truncation symbol: "$" to get the root word and all endings: e.g. entrepreneur$ (gets entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, etc.) (NOTE: This differs from the more standard * used in most article databases.)
As you read through what you find, watch for important books or authors frequently cited and search the library catalogue by author or title to see if the library has those books.
Use the Advanced Keyword search option if you don't know a complete title, or to search with multiple field types e.g. Drucker (in Author field) AND management (in Title field)
If the library does not have a book you need, it may be possible to get it through an interlibrary loan. Please see the instructions on how to submit an Interlibrary Loan request.
B) Finding Articles from Academic Business Journals
The highest level academic journals are peer-reviewed. These journals publish articles only after experts in the field have seen and approved the manuscript. Articles in these journals cover original empirical research, or in-depth theoretical or analytical scholarship. Their purpose is to add to knowledge in the field. They generally follow a standard format starting with an abstract and literature review, and ending with conclusions and a list of sources cited. Some other business journals with an academic focus or publisher (e.g. Journal of Advertising Research, or Harvard Business Review) may not follow such stringent guidelines or formats and have an editorial board or editors instead of peer review. Academic articles should generally form the core of your sources for a research paper, providing research-based findings or analyses of the topic rather than opinion, anecdotes or sales pitches.
Two of the major business article databases recommended for this course are: Business Source Premier (BSP) and ABI/INFORM Collection. Both cover hundreds of the most important business journals and have similar search options, including the option to limit articles found to scholarly or academic journals:
BASIC SEARCH TIPS:
Use the Advanced search screen to see what your search options are.
Use AND between keywords to make sure each keyword is in every record found
e.g. leadership and nonprofit
Use double quotation marks for a phrase (2 or more words together in the same order)
e.g. “social media”
Use * (truncation symbol) to get the root word and all possible endings
e.g. entrepreneur* gets entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, etc.
Use OR to get one or the other term (useful for synonyms or alternate spellings)
e.g. entrepreneur* and (women or female)
NOTE: parentheses are required when using AND and OR in the same search string.
The default search fields: "Anywhere" in ABI and No field selected in BSP, are generally too broad for finding articles on a topic unless it is very specific. Try searching the "Subject" or "Abstract" fields, or "Anywhere except full text" for a more targeted search.
Click on the "Search Tips" link or (?) symbol in BSP, for more.
1. DO NOT limit results to Full Text documents only! Where the full text of an article indexed by ABI/INFORM or BSP is not available directly, there is a link provided to the full text in other databases subscribed to by the library.
Click on the "Find @ MTA" link to see the full text article.
2. Evaluate the articles you find using the metadata provided: Read the citation and abstract before reading the article. Note the terms used in the abstract, the subject terms assigned, and other clues about how to make your next searches more precise.
Journal Finder: If you have identified an important article from a reference in a book or other article, you can quickly find out if it is accessible by entering the title into Journal Finder (3rd Quick Link on the Library homepage.) If links are provided, select the one that includes the issue you need. Some "open access" articles may be found by googling. If an article you need is not available, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan request. Articles are usually emailed to you within 2 days.
In ABI/INFORM, click on the “Change databases” link (top of the screen) and then select "all", or select individual databases you wish to search for other kinds of articles e.g. Canadian Newsstream, for major Canadian newspapers, CBCA for Canadian business and other Canadian content, etc. Selecting "All" will allow you to search thousands of scholarly journals, trade and professional journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, blogs and other sources, covering a wide variety of topics, and including much Canadian content. Sources found can also be limited by type after you enter your search.
In Business Source Premier you can also limit your search by "Source type", including product reviews, country reports, SWOT analyses, market research reports, industry profiles, etc.
Using others' ideas or words without proper acknowledgement is plagiarism, a serious academic offense. You are expected to credit all sources used for academic work. See the brief guides on avoiding plagiarism under the Research Help tab on the library home page. There are several ways to cite sources. In this course you are required to use the APA citation style. This means using the APA format to cite sources briefly in the text of your paper (author and date), and more fully in the Reference List at the end. There are several brief guides on the library website that help explain how to do this and give examples for different kinds of sources. See for example: “APA Formatting and Style Guide” by the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
In BSP and ProQuest databases, when viewing an article or abstract, you can click on the “Cite” button to see how the article is cited in APA format. Select “APA”, check it is accurate, then copy, paste, and include in the email with the fulltext article you intend to use. The citation can later be pasted into your Reference list.
To save time, you should have a clear idea of the key elements required in a proper reference and record them while doing the research for your paper: Author, date, article title, publication/source title, volume #, issue #, page #s, date retrieved for websites, DOI or URL.
For other tip sheets, see the Research Help tab on the library homepage.
Look for the same information you need to cite a source to also evaluate it:
Author: Who is the author or authoring organization? There should be information about who the author is (credentials, expertise, affiliation, etc.) or an "About" link for information on the organization. If no author is given, look at who is hosting the publication or the site as a whole. (See "Publication / Source Title" below.)
Date: Look for the date the content was created or last updated (may differ from the web site’s date).
Article Title: Google searches can lead you to sections within documents or bits of text that are taken out of context. If there is no title, look for links back to the homepage, or back through the URL path to find the document title or context for the information.
Publication / Source Title: The source in which the information is "published" is an important indicator of the likely reliability of the information. Government bodies like Statistics Canada, or IGOs like the UN, are mandated to collect certain kinds of information and follow stringent quality guidelines. The best academic publications have strict guidelines on how research findings and analyses can be presented, following academic standards for evidence-based, objective and balanced writing. Major publishers, research institutes, and other organizations who have reputations to uphold, generally strive to publish information in objective and balanced ways. Many non-profit organizations describe their mandate as being research and public education, but if they get the majority of their funding from major corporations or a particular lobby group, that will likely slant the content. (Check the organization's mandate, "About" page, other publications, etc. to get an idea of their biases or intent. Google the organization name to see how others, especially investigative journalists, have described it.) Industry and professional associations are paid to represent their industries and members, and publish information to win over support for their practices or products. The information that corporations make public (annual reports, press releases, etc.) will all present the corporation in the best light. Even the financial reports required of public companies, although required by law to contain certain information, can be misleading. Business analysts, columnists, commentators and others who contribute informational "content" in a variety of sources may be marketing their services rather than providing unbiased, factual information. Although it is often not clearly identified as such, commercial information makes up the majority of the information you are likely to find using an Internet search engine. Looking carefully at the source and purpose of the information is crucial to evaluating its appropriateness for your purposes.
These details about the information (author, date, article or webpage title, publication or website name, volume, issue, page numbers, URL, DOI, etc.) are important for finding the information again and for citing the source if you decide to use it. Note as much as you can find for your own evaluation purposes as well as for use in your Reference List.
Beyond these citation evaluation steps, reading the content critically is also necessary to decide whether the information is reliable and appropriate for your purposes. For more details on critically evaluating content, see the MTA guide Evaluating Web Sources.
For help with your general research questions, please contact a librarian at the Research Help Desk in the library at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 364-2564, or use the library's online chat service.
For research assistance specific to this and other Commerce courses, please contact Anita Cannon, Commerce Librarian at email@example.com or 364-2572, or visit me in the library.
Created September, 2012. Revised Aug. 2014, Jan. 2018.