Skip to Main Content
Starting Your Research
- What industry or product are you researching? Think of narrower or broader names for your industry or product, and keep a list of possible terms. For example, if you were doing market research for a pizza place, a broader term might be restaurant, and narrower terms might be food delivery or mobile food services.
- What is the NAICS code for your industry? The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is an industry classification system created to promote data comparability. NAICS can help you quickly narrow down your searches in certain web or library resource searches.
- What type of company are you researching?
- Public companies issue securities or shares of stock for the public. They are required to provide detailed information to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, made available through their Edgar company search tool. Public companies are usually the easiest to research.
- Private companies have not offered shares to be traded on a public exchange. Information on private companies is usually limited to brief information in directories, news sources, trade publications, and magazines.
- Nonprofit (not for profit) organizations file Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. This form is often available on the nonprofit’s website or in resources like Pro Publica’s Nonprofit Explorer.
- What else can you find out? When you are researching a company, it may be helpful to find information on the industry in which that company operates, or about the consumers who may be interested in the company’s products or services. For industry information, try IBISWorld or the First Research industry reports in ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. For consumer research information, start with Mintel Academic.
- What kinds of information do you need? For market research, you will probably need to find lots of different kinds of information. You are unlikely to find everything you need in one place. Make a list of the pieces of information you need before you start.