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Business Research

Introduction to Business Resources

Looking for a Private Company?

Check out the FAQ on this topic in this guide:

Key Terms

Private Company – A private company is one that is owned by an individual, family, or group of partners. The amount of information that private companies must report is limited, and much of that is confidential. Thus, it is often difficult to find much information on a private company.

Public Company – A public company is a company that issues securities or shares of stock for the public. Those who purchase these securities or shares become investors in and owners of the company. This process is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and public companies must file numerous financial and other reports with the SEC. Because these reports are public information, much data and information can be found when researching public companies. For more information, visit the SEC website at

Subsidiary – A company which is owned in whole or in part by another company. When researching a subsidiary, it is often advantageous to also research the owning company or the parent company.


Library Databases with Company Information

You can find company information in a number of the library's business databases, a few best bets are linked above. It's helpful to know your company's ticker symbol (an abbreviation used to identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock on a stock market) before you begin searching. 

A few things to know:

  • Mergent Online & Intellect are comprehensive databases for business information. Mergent Online has loads of financial information and reports, see the video at the bottom of this page for hints on searching for company information in Mergent Online. Mergent Intellect is easy to search and offers content powered by the same Dun & Bradstreet® data found in Hoover's.
  • Business Source Premier also allows for easy searching - click the Company Profiles link from the top menu. You will be taken to MarketLine, a company profile database within Business Source Premier.

  • ABI/Inform Complete is another business database that contains company information and allows you to search company reports. From the top menu, click Browse, then ProQuest Annual Reports Collection.


Finding Company Information on the Web

EDGAR Company Filings Database: performs automated collection, validation, indexing, acceptance, and forwarding of submissions by companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Thomas Register of Manufacturers (Thomas Publishing Company): search across 607,000 manufacturers across the U.S. and Canada. A good resource for business-to-business information needs. Also provides a means to trace a brand name back to its manufacturer.

Fortune's Global 500: an annual ranking of the top 500 corporations worldwide as measured by revenue

WATCH: Find Essential Company Information Quickly in Mergent Online

-a video tutorial by Chad Boeninger, Business Librarian at Ohio University Libraries