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Subject: Information Research FAQ v.4.6 (Part 4/6)

This article was archived around: 06 Apr 2002 06:54:11 GMT

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Archive-name: internet/info-research-faq/part4 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: Feb 2001 URL: http://spireproject.com Copyright: (c) 2001 David Novak Maintainer: David Novak <david@spireproject.com>
Information Research FAQ (Part 4/6) 100 pages of search techniques, tactics and theory by David Novak of the Spire Project (SpireProject.com) Welcome. This FAQ addresses information literacy; the skills, tools and theory of information research. Particular attention is paid to the role of the internet as both a reservoir and gateway to information resources. The FAQ is written like a book, with a narrative and pictures. You have found your way to part four, so do backtrack to the beginning. If you are lost, this FAQ always resides as text at http://spireproject.com/faq.txt and http://spireproject.co.uk/faq.txt and with pictures at http://spireproject.com/faq.htm This FAQ is an element of the Spire Project, the primary free reference for information research and an important resource for search assistance. Do visit the assisting website http://spireproject.com and our All-in-one search page http://spireproject.com/spir.htm *** The Spire Project also delivers a 3 hour public seminar called *** Beyond Boolean: exceptional internet research. This is a *** fast paced demonstration supported with webbing, reaching beyond *** the ground covered on our website and FAQs. Please visit *** http://SpireProject.com/seminar.htm for synopsis and venues. *** Register you interest and we will try to come to your city. Enjoy, David Novak - david@spireproject.com The Spire Project : SpireProject.com and SpireProject.co.uk NOTE FOR RETURN READERS: previously, we prepared this section by converting work originally prepared in html. This became unproductive so we have limited the internet links in this FAQ and direct you to the more lengthy articles prepared in html. All the required links and search tool forms reside in other parts of the Spire Project, like the websites and free shareware (http://spireproject.com/spire_latest_version.zip). Information by Field Section 6 Country Profiles links and more at http://spireproject.com/country.htm Certain questions require country specific data. The internet is a fine source for this kind of information, dominated by data from large international organizations (the UN, World Bank and WHO) and government departments (CIA, UK Foreign Consular Office, Health Canada, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs). This works in our favour: such information attains a higher standard of quality than might otherwise be expected on the internet. The down side: current information is difficult to locate. Further commercial compilations exist with particular strengths in economic analysis. The Spire Project maintains a very fine html article on country profiles, in many ways a flagship for our approach to assisted research. All the links are on this article, so we will merely describe available resources here. Start at http://spireproject.com/country.htm As a fine example of liberating information from previously limited circulation, country-specific data has flowed from many a government and quasi-government institution. So much information, of such high quality, has become available that several commercial interests have abandoned the field altogether. * International Travel Advisory Reports from USA, Canada, Australia and the UK cover details of importance to travelers like health care, crime, current security issues. These travel advisories only mildly overlap so try to read each one and take note of the preparation date. * Country Health Reports are released online from the CDC, Health Canada, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). * General and Demographic Country Profiles originate from the CIA, [US] Library of Congress, US Department of State, UNICEF, US Census Bureau, World Bank and the UN Statistical Division. * Social profiles and detailed social incident reporting originates from Amnesty International , the Red Cross, US Committee for Refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), US Department of State, Refugees.org cover Human Rights, Refugees and Armed Conflict in great detail. * Economic Country Profiles are released by the governments of New Zealand, Australia, United States, The OECD and the World Bank. More market related profiles also exist from the EU, the US and the World Trade Organization (WTO). What this means: The list of publishers above is literally a Who's Who of international diplomacy and observation. Embedded within this field is also a story of the liberation of information previously published in different and predominantly closed systems. As each individual publication emerges online, it adds to the wealth of information from other sources. Taken collectively, we have a powerful trend giving rise to very high quality information - a trend not unique to country profiles. In time we will see this trend transform many information fields. For years I was aware of a small binder by the front desk of the US consulate help desk. The binder contained the latest bulletins and alerts thought relevant to overseas travelers. Today, you are far more likely to see this electronically as the US International Travel Advisory Reports, delivered electronically at http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html Almost all of the electronic resources, with the notable exception of the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP) by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, all these electronic resources were previously published in paper. So the above list is really a list of pre-existing publications now released on the internet. This is both delightful, since we now have rapid access to very fine publications, and delightful, since we can look forward to a future with country profiles specifically designed for the web. The library resources, like the "Europa World Year Book" (now in its 37th edition) and the "Compendium of Social Statistics and Indicators" by the United Nations, publish data very similar to other publications currently online. The notable exceptions are the publications of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Economist. These two financial papers publish economic profiles both in print, and through their periodical. This kind of data is a little higher quality than that found online, and does not suffer the time-lag which is the one accusation we can level against government information. The commercial country profiles includes PERC (Political and Economic Risk Consultancy), the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Bank of America World Information Services, and then a number of quasi-government or government publications for sale from Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs, US Embassies and the OECD. Additional publications exist and fall into one of these two categories. The initial alternative information includes reading regional papers and periodicals or reading and searching current news. For more depth, there are international policy journals and scholarly journals with expert commentary under peer review, or for simple questions, the Ambassador, Consulate and Representatives both of your country and the target country can help you answer specific questions. Country Profiles makes for a very good microcosm of information organization in action. Let us focus on how available country profiles have changed over the last few years. We have a few commercial publications, being offset by a range of free publications emerging from government and quasi-government sources, and encroached by other information resources of related information. ___________________________________________________ Import Statistics Once you have decided to reach for trade statistics, reach for the best. All the general statistics and trade links are of limited relevance compared to knowing the volume of tuna exported to Japan. We can try to identify specific exporting firms, potential markets and existing trade patterns. We list here statistics prepared by the national statistical agencies, certain directories of possible interest, and a database of port traffic. Trade Data Online Trade Data Online (strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrkti/tdst/engdoc/tr_homep.html) is a service by Industry Canada, presenting trade information from Statistics Canada and the US Bureau of the Census. This free database presents trade data for both the US and Canada. Results either list imports and exports by product (down to the level of "pulp of wood and the like", or "footwear", or imports and exports by industry ("fruit farms" or "contract logging industry"). In every way, this is a brilliant tool, except the depth of categories. Results can be as specific as exports from British Columbia to Afghanistan, divided by month in CA$ or US$. For more detail, we need to reach for the paid services below. Directories Kompass directories list manufacturing firms by product. If you are looking for the manufacturer of plastic disk slips - here is where you go. They are a bit tricky to use, so read our simple guide first. Kompass directories list manufacturing companies, which may suggest potential exporters. Kompass is produced by Kompass [US] or Kompass International. Print directories exist for most countries while Kompass databases cover regions (i.e. Kompass Asia/Pacific). Large libraries will have some of the print directories. Further descriptions can be found from Dialog, Australian Exports by Austrade, gives the names of major firms divided by product and service. Volume of trade is not provided, but this directory, and directories like this, provide the names responsible for the trade numbers you can determine using other resources (like export statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics). The American Export Register provides similar information. Commercial Databases US Trade Statistics The US Customs Service collects import and export information, but the information is developed by the US Census Bureau and Stat-USA (a commercial wing of the Dept of Commerce). The Trade Data Online listed above is a free version of this information but at a shallow level. The National Trade Data Bank (NTDB) is a subscription service to US import and export statistics offered through Stat-USA. Costs are US$50/quarter or US$150/yr. This data is accessed through the Stat-USA website. The database extends down to the level of "0105190020 Turkeys, Live, Weighing Not Over 185 G Each (SIC0259)". The subscription price also entitles you to a range of further economic data, so you will want to investigate this a little further. The US Census Burea, also sells trade data collected by the US Customs Service. Start at USA Trade Statistics. Canadian Trade Statistics Canadian customs information is either available through The Trade Data Online (a free but at a shallow trade database), or through the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database, also by Statistics Canada. The Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database delivers specific imports and exports from Canada - and provides you with a quote for the cost. Works like a shopping trolley, and Statistics Canada accepts payment by credit card. All the Australian Trade Statistics are prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Import and Export statistics are collected by the customs authority, then released as a paid service directly from the ABS prepared to the level of classification you need. Prices are arranged by quote. Due to privacy concerns you will not be able to pinpoint who is exporting/importing but you will get totals, by state if you wish, for commodities. This is a paid service. To start, contact the ABS by phone. PIERS - Port traffic database. PIERS (www.piers.com) is a database of port traffic. Based upon the port documents (manifest & bill of lading), the complete database compiles this information into specific categories, countries and the like. The PIERS database covers imports and exports from the US, Mexico and a collection of south and Latin American countries. Of particular interest, summary data is also available through the website (sample). A report detailing the top importers of olives from Italy costs US$87 when I looked. Databases are organized as US or Mexico, Import or Export. Conclusion As each national statistical bureau records and monitors imports and exports, read the National Statistical Agencies article for directions to other country statistics. For those tempted to trawl for internet resources, consider International Trade Web Resources by the Federation of International Trade Associations (http://www.fita.org/webindex.html), a site recommended by Argus. ___________________________________________________ Business Benchmarks Business Benchmarks are statistical descriptions of the running costs of comparable businesses. There are several ways to use benchmarks. Accountants use them frequently, as do bankers and investment advisors, to judge the health of a business. Certainly anyone buying a business will reach for business benchmarks as one measurement of business health and value. Equally as often, your accountant will do this work for you. A standard business benchmark will describe various costs as a percentage of total turnover. They may include figures like turnover per staff, gross profit as a percentage of turnover, staffing costs as a percentage of turnover and such. Some benchmarks give more. These are the ones we are aware of. * Small Business Advancement Electronic Resource The SBAER (http://www.sbaer.uca.edu) publishes a collection of 33 small business profiles, free on the net but unfortunately slightly dated now. Start at http://www.sbaer.uca.edu/sbaer/publications/#industry * US Industry and Trade Outlook 2000 (USA) US Industry and Trade Outlook 2000 is an NTIS publication compiled by industry analysts from Dept of Commerce. Their blurb describes a 650 page volume, reviewing most important sectors of the US economy. If your library does not have a copy, the book is inexpensive at about US$70. See their webpage description (http://www.ntis.gov/product/industry-trade.htm). * Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (Australia) The ABS publishes business benchmarks in their industry analyses. If the ABS has undertaken surveys, and you search their online catalogue to determine this, then they will have compiled information that can be used as business benchmarks. You may have to calculate the percentages yourself, the ABS tends to have older data than other sources, and focus more on industry. The ABS collects their data from surveys sent to businesses. Start with the current ABS Catalogue of Publications. Other benchmarks are published as books. * The [Australian] Bureau of Industry Economics publishes a series of studies on various Australian infrastructure industries. Each study compares between states and against best work practice, including costs, services and operating efficiency. All have the titles "International Performance Indicators ..." and you can get a list by entering this in the AGIP database of Australian Government Publications. * The Locating Books article will help you find alternative books. Commercial Benchmark Compilations * FMRC Benchmarking Team (Australia) The FMRC Business Benchmarks (www.benchmarking.au.com ) are Australian business benchmarks, recording the expected costs as a percentage and certain business ratios for a range of mostly small business industries. I have not had time to review their new website but previously they came in two formats... a single sheet and a small pamphlet, which is little more than the single sheet with an explanation attached. Accountants use benchmarks frequently, and this may well be the easiest place to go to get them. The State Library in Western Australia has an aging collection in a binder held behind the business help desk and The Small Business Development Corporation's Free Advisory service in WA incorporate this information into their advice. You could also purchase these directly from the SBDC (formerly $250 for hard or softcopy for complete information or about A$40 each.) Be careful of their age. Each industry is only analyzed every few years, and the libraries may not have the most recent version. Further, these do require some understanding of business ratios. * Westralian Business Ratios (Western Australia) John Watson, from the Economics Department of the University of Western Australia, has created a very professional set of business benchmarks on Western Australian businesses. Unlike most business benchmarks, these are annual, present quartile information and describe the statistics in a most professional manner (including sample size !). You may need the help of your accountant to get a copy. Conclusion We have listed just a few benchmarks here but information about benchmarks is so poorly distributed, and we get asked so frequently, we thought it worthwhile publishing this article anyway. If you know of further benchmarks, do inform us. One further opportunity is Purposeful Benchmarking. Ideally you arrange an amicable invitation to peruse the best practice of, not your competitor but a business unit which does similar functions in a different industry. Thus, compare Airplane Turnaround times with an racecar pit crew. The Benchmark Self-Help Manual is guide to the concept of creating benchmarks. Best Practice manuals and journals also cover this activity. ___________________________________________________ Company Information links and more at http://spireproject.com/company.htm Company information forms the backbone to the information industry. There is real money here. Investors are eager, customers & suppliers are eager, competitors are eager to find good information. As a result, a wide collection of very client-centered research resources has grown up to deliver to this market. Your research may take you into competitive intelligence and private investigation - talking to competitors, customers, suppliers, past employees and more. Another direction leads to information specific to an industry: perhaps locating export logs or chemical patents. For the purpose of this article, let's restrict ourselves to public, general and readily available resources: publications from the company itself, government disclosure documents, directory information, business news articles, compiled company profiles, and related profiles like credit reports or investment profiles. Corporate Websites Let's start with the obvious. Companies publish information about themselves - some of it quite useful & factual. Look for a company website. * Use Altavista to find a specific commercial website. Specifically use the url:name function (like url:nike). * Alternatively, use Debriefing (http://www.debriefing.com), a meta-search engine optimized for finding names and named websites. * If you still have difficulties, consider a local or national search engine. Government Disclosure Documents Governments require all companies to release some information - some of this is made public. Much greater information is released from public companies. * EDGAR (http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/srch-edgar), a database produced by the (US) Securities and Exchange Commission, delivers all public US company submissions as required by law. The information is factual and numerical - and includes both current and past submissions. Access is free on the net. * SEDAR (www.sedar.com), produced for the Canadian Depository for Securities, is the Canadian counterpart to the US EDGAR database. SEDAR delivers the public securities filings and public/mutual fund profiles. SEDAR also includes some press releases. The search is very user-friendly. EDGAR (and presumably SEDAR) are also basic ingredients to other commercial databases like EDGAR Plus on Dialog or company profiles like Hoovers Company Profiles. EDGAR Plus and Disclosure (another database) contain very similar data to the free EDGAR database but include better fields and standardized financials. Basic Directory Information Address, contact numbers and basic size may be all you need initially. Such information can be found through numerous book directories. Most directories are created from questionnaires, so the information is suggestive - not absolute. Directories come in different forms; general information, businesses in specific industries or regions, registers like American Export Register & Australian Exports, and serialized directories like Kompass & Who's Who (i.e. Who's Who of Business in Australia). The commercial databases to these serials usually cover a far larger area that may be very useful. Kompass comes in national directories; one of the databases covers S.E.Asia. Every library will have numerous directory titles available, though not always the most recent editions. Especially in recent years, a vast collection of directories have emerged with titles like Lloyds Shipping Register, Radio Airtime Sales, and National Directory of Multicultural Research - clearly a great range exist. Some of the more popular directories have previously become available as commercial databases. A small collection of directories like Thomas Register of American Manufacturing, American Export Register and CompaniesOnline (Dun & Bradstreet with Lycos) are emerging free online. The humble phone book is certainly available. Another option is to reach for phone numbers on CD-ROM. Australian Businesses on CD, American Business Information - A Business Directory (Dialog) and more. Directories may also be used to determine what the companies produce and sell. The Kompass Directories index manufacturers by product. Australian Exports (by Austrade) lists exporters by product. Directories have other innovative uses too. Corporate structure can be found using, again, a collection of directories: America's Corporate Families and International Affiliates, Directory of Corporate Affiliations (Dialog), Who Owns Who (by Dun & Bradstreet) Company Annual Reports Annual reports are brilliant at giving a concise review of a business or government operation and they usually don't lie too directly (though they do put quite a spin on the statistics from time to time). Annual reports will be found in one of five sources: * State Public Libraries, * Stock Exchange Libraries, * Direct from the Company, * Purchased through Annual Report Providers, * Annual reports may also be published on the company website. Wall Street Journal and Public Register's Annual Report Service -PRARS are reported as commercial annual reports providers. The Simon Fraser University Library has compiled a fine resource for company annual reports: Business - Annual Reports (http://www.lib.sfu.ca/kiosk/mbodnar/anrpt.htm). News Coverage and Press Releases Many newswires contain copious amounts of information about companies - and describe products, mergers and fiascoes. Prominent newspapers specialize in covering business. In active research, this means searching the commercial databases of past & recent news. This is described in more detail in our news article. News is generated locally, then distributed globally through the newswires. Associated Press, Reuters and the top of the line Bloomberg Business Newsall deliver business news targeted to the investor. Press releases are released through BusinessWire and PR Newswire and a selection of national wire services. Current press releases are usually free online but past press releases are again archived as commercial databases. This information is also rather ubiquitously used in the preparation of company profiles. Prominent business investigation also occurs through specific newspapers. The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal can be very useful resources in this regard. Of course, these newspapers are also available as searchable databases. Business Electronic Newspapers (http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rulib/socsci/busi/busenews.htm) lists many of the business-related electronic news sources available on the internet. Business & Trade Articles Companies are also profiled in the trade periodicals. There are three ways to approach this. Firstly, you can attempt a broad search for articles about a company in a wide collection of commercial article databases. Secondly, you can seek articles in specific, topical trade publications by searching databases specific to the field the company works in. Thirdly, you can use what is close at hand, perhaps access to ABI/Inform or another popular business article database, and see what appears. These alternative approaches each have pros & cons. ABI/Inform has a deep North American bias (as do many commercial databases) and indexes many of the more trashy/newsy local business magazines. Tightly focused databases may simply have nothing on the target company - or have only technical matters. Certain databases will allow you to specify during the search exactly what company you are interested in: you will read of these in the database descriptions. To find trade periodicals, consider searching on a broad business database, then noting the titles that repeat themselves. Commercial Company Profiles A wide range of potted histories, financial histories and current information is available. The market is not necessarily centered in the US, but North American products are better promoted. This information comes in the form of small reports about a given business, prepared with investors in mind. * Hoover's Online (www.hoovers.com) * Standard & Poor * Dun & Bradstreet * Moody's - Moody's Corporate Profiles * Disclosure (www.disclosure.com) * Value Line Investment Survey * Worldscope (www.worldscope.com), a global database. For a fine, European dominated list of country profile retailers, read Sheila Webber's article: Company Profiles and Financial Information (http://www.dis.strath.ac.uk/business/financials.html). A holistic approach: the most powerful tools present a variety of resources for your attention. * Lexis-Nexis Company Library * Dow Jones News/Retrieval Service Investext (www.investext.com) - provides in-depth business research - access to collections of investment research, market research, and trade association research, authored by analysts at investment banks, brokerages and related consulting firms. The work is also available through EINS, Dialog and Datastar. Conclusion Company research need not stop here. There are many avenues of further research: Directly ask the company for sales literature: catalogue, price list, local sales agents, Monitor company employment advertisements, Articles in the trade and specialized press, Company registers: in addition to anonymous statistical compilations, the national statistical bureau will also have a register of businesses - by name - with address coded by industry code. This is used firstly with site analysis, but may also be useful for geographical analysis of businesses. Background information on company leaders: their history, experience and age, Patent research. Industry level research - see Industry Research, Large international firms may have books written about them - consider a book search, Interview past employees of the company, Interview their suppliers or customers, Local newspapers where the firm is located. The task of finding information about companies is really a task of finding information thrown off in the process of running a business. Some of it is mandated by government (Edgar & Sedar), some of it by newspapers, some by the company itself (websites, price lists). In each case, some organization has stepped forward to collect and organize the information. Annual Reports on the web gave rise to web directories of annual reports. Corporate ownership - the directory "Who Owns Who" by Dun & Bradstreet. ___________________________________________________ Industry Information links and more at http://spireproject.com/industry.htm Industry research will encompass many of the research tools and vectors described more fully in our other articles. Your research into the information industry (as an example) will certainly include a book search, an article search, perhaps some patent research, statistics and discussion groups. What we have in this article are the resources specifically for industry level research - and leads to further promising directions like patent research, statistics and discussion groups. With few exceptions, you will need to search for specific facets of an industry when you continue your research beyond this article. You will get no-where trying to search for "information industry" - but will find very factual information about the proposed changes to intellectual property of database contents (an issue critical to the information industry). Internet The web is a fine example of this: with the exception of Industry Canada & the US Census Bureau, I can think of no other sites devoted to 'industry'; few organizations package information this way. There are numerous gems to be unearthed free from the internet. Industry news flows through news sources like AnchorDesk & Clarinet. Discussion groups may inform and dissect developments in industries with great resource and collective skill. Associations may occasionally feel it is in their interest to publish industry briefs & white papers describing their position. Without exception, you will have better success searching for specific facets of an industry which interest you. Online Industry Information Market Access Database (mkaccdb.eu.int), a project by the Commission of the European Union, presents some sharp analysis about market access for a collection of 30+ countries. Extends from overviews of barriers, to specific barriers in specific industries. Query the database by country. The US Census Bureau publishes Current Industrial Reports. Just a few are online, and this is just one resource here, so it is better to search their website or review their catalogue. Industry Canada, working with Statistics Canada, publishes a fine site devoted to Canadian industry statistics. These organizations are also responsible for Trade Data Online (strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrkti/tdst/engdoc/tr_homep.html), a free database presenting US & Canadian Trade broken down to industry (SEC & NAICS). Government Publication Databases One of the first tasks to undertake is a search of the government publication databases. Governments spend an inordinate portion of their time monitoring industries - and write exhaustively. This will be one of your most promising sources of Industry data and description. Publications undertaken at a national level should appear in their respective government publication databases: AGIP, MOCAT & the publication catalogue of the UK Stationery Office. National Statistical Agency Data A second invaluable resource will be the national statistical agencies: the US Census Dept, Statistics Canada, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). Some of their data is published on the web and each have their publications catalogue online. Links and forms are prepared for you in our article: National Statistical Bureau. Further Statistical Resources: Association Statistics are usually tightly focussed on the industry itself. A case in point, the Australian Booksellers Association prepares an annual analysis of business benchmarks, and industry size, growth and development. Such publications are usually inexpensive and timely. Start by locating an association particular to the industry. Benchmark Studies, undertaken by accountancy firms and associations focus on the financial ratios involved in business. The FMRC Business Benchmarks and the United States Trade and Industry Outlook (www.ntis.gov/yellowbk/1nty752.htm) are examples. Both present descriptions of business operating costs, risk and margins compiled by comparing financial data from various companies within an industry. The results are anonymous, but factual and again, relatively timely. The Statistical Abstract of the US (www.census.gov/stat_abstract), free online from the US Census Bureau, gives you another avenue for finding industry related statistics. There are several statistical resource directories in most libraries, like Statistical Sources (by Gale Research). Further Government Industry Studies Governments do not always publish their work widely. Non-statistical agencies create vast quantities of government studies on all manner of industry, but this work is primarily undertaken as part of their industry supervisory role. Of course, this information is available to you if you can find it. If the information has arrived on the web, you may find it with a web search limited to government webpages. If your industry analysis is local, approach the appropriate state government organizations. Here in Western Australia, for example, the state tourism agency maintains a list of all planned large tourism projects. This is a fine example of the potential value to be found here. Of course, this list is not widely published - or known - but one should not underestimate the industry information prepared by government agencies. Further avenues could include researching changes to industry regulation, perhaps with congressional discussion or legal commentary. Such research may be internet based for the US (I am thinking of the Library of Congress Thomas Database). Consider reading sections of The Virtual Chase (http://www.virtualchase.com/coinfo/index.htm). Commercial Industry research has also grown into a very active industry in its own right. There are many organizations who have built considerable expertise in analyzing and preparing research reports both as a retail and consultancy service. Market Research & Industry Research Reports Many of the larger market research firms also prepare market/industry reports for sale. These reports are only as good as their age, depth and reputation, and may be prohibitively expensive. They are, however, also very accessible ways to read an encapsulated concern of an industries changes and movement - and may save you from undertaking some of the work yourself. * Find/SVP (www.findsvp.com) is a good example. * Here in Australia, IBIS and Syntec Economic Services both specialize in preparing industry research reports - often for government. Again, some of this work becomes available to purchase. For a fine list of such market research retailers, consider reading Sheila Webber's 1998 list: Commercial market research companies (http://www.dis.strath.ac.uk/business/marketres.html) Your national embassies and trade organizations also provide international industry and marketing reports. This is undertaken as paid consultancy work. Business Magazines and Trade Periodicals Industry analysts are not the only ones involved in research. Considerable broad industry analysis occurs in the trade and business press. The most effective tool here, of course, is the article search. There are two ways to approach this. Firstly, if you can refine your concept to a specific phrase which interests you, then try a broad search of business & industry periodicals. Alternatively, you can select a specific database particular to the industry you want to cover. For example: Aluminum Industry Abstracts (Dialog). This is covered in a little more detail our articles on Finding Articles & Commercial Databases. There are also collections of databases focused on 'industry' in general. Industry Trends and Analysis: (Dialog) a mixed index/abstract/text for "broad coverage of industries, technologies, and management topics", and Predicasts Prompt: a "multi-industry bibliographic database, offering access to over 1500 trade journals, newspapers and special reports in relation to over 60 industries". Conclusion Many of the resources used in company research will describe the industry too. Annual Reports for industry giants will include information useful for industry analysis. The same directories like Kompass which can be used to identify the address of a company, can also be used to identify the companies which are active in a particular industry. Patents may be critical in certain industries. Thankfully, the US & Canada have considerable patent data free online. Patent research is covered separately in Searching Patents. Interview key analysts within the industry. These are the people writing the articles, the industry reports, the government analysts and, perhaps, critical managers & past managers from the industry. Import & Export statistics may help you understand and quantify the international nature of an industry. This is described separately in our article: Imports & Exports. Of particular interest will be the free internet access to US and Canadian trade statistics by SIC & NAICS thanks to Industry Canada. As with corporate research, there are a very many rewarding avenues to search for industry information. The challenge will be in structuring your approach in a way that both suits your budget and desired depth. If we are successful, we aim to have compiled a collection of industry specific data from a range of sources, including a range of bias and background. A simple pitfall: collecting various resources which all depend on SEC financial data. You are equally likely to collect resources featuring data pulled primarily from the company's annual report or website. In this field, numerous references does not necessarily lend additional credence to information. Strategy Industry Research could either be research into industry-groups (banking or transport industries) or research into specific industries (wholesale furniture or retail butchers). This is a good distinction to make as very different resources are involved. Industry-group trends may be found with national statistics, government trade reports and general market reports. Researching specific industries may better be served with association statistics, specific market reports, trade articles and business benchmarks. Select only the resources you feel match your research goals. Secondly, collecting industry research need not be constrained to your national border. There are very good reasons to consider statistics collected from foreign governments or associations. Industries do not develop uniformly in different countries. Foreign industries may be predictive of industry developments yet to flow through to your country, or indicative of different standards and legislation. There is considerable expertise in drawing conclusions from industry data: a skill beyond the initial scope of our work here. This is often the domain of experienced consultancy - though there is certainly no miracle to it. May I recommend a book; The New Competitor Intelligence by Leonard Fuld. Lastly, we have not yet described the categorization of industries using standard SIC or NAICS coding. In simple terms, each industry is divided into specific codes, similar to the international patent classification or the Dewey decimal system. The two systems SIC and NAICS are inter-related and will not cause undue difficulty. Trade statistics, digital business directories, and national statistical bureau industry data will all use the industry codes. ___________________________________________________ Personal Information links and more at http://spireproject.com/people.htm There are tools to assist you to either locate someone you know, or dig up background information. The internet has email directories and phone directories aplenty as well as tools to trace internet communication. Beyond this, there are tools to find silent numbers, business and asset ownership, newspaper articles and more. You will start with a name or email address. Finding an Email Address: * The Yahoo People Search (people.yahoo.com) is an important and flexible tool for finding email & address information. * Switchboard (www.switchboard.com) also offers several people search tools. * You may need to search the people databases from several internet websites to be successful. For further assistance, consider the FAQ: How to find people's E-mail addresses (http://www.cs.queensu.ca/FAQs/email/bigfinding.html) and the phone & address references on Yahoo. People who Publish Online Has the person published anything on the internet? The simple way is to search the internet for the full name of the individual in the hope they included their email address or real name on the webpage. Use Altavista and Debriefing for this task. For more depth, read the article: Searching the Web. Altavista has a very large, fast search engine. Type the name using quotes to keep the words together. Add in further information if you know using url:edu or keywords (use the + sign). Also, capitals matter with Altavista. Debriefing, is a meta-search engine optimized for finding people & named websites. Finger is a lesser known internet protocol which sometimes reveals information about a person given an email address. It used to be more common and may give name & perhaps if a person is currently logged in. It is easy to make a finger request from a Unix command line (finger email@host). Some web-browsers will allow you to enter a finger request directly (as finger://username@host). Alternatively, use a finger gateway like this one from MIT (http://www.mit.edu:8001/finger?). Tracing Online Communication Deja.com usenet archive (www.deja.com) maintains a very large database of newsgroup discussion. The Deja.com's power search is a must-see and will give you a brilliant author profile. Here is a quick search; the power search has more flexible options. Searching mailing list discussion is more difficult. If you know a forum a person is active in, see our article: Discussion Groups. Alternatively, search the web for the email address. Hopefully you will catch list discussion picked up by zines or directly by search engines. Use Altavista for this. Phone Directories There are several tools available to you here: Printed Directories: White pages - if you know the name but not the address or phone number. Yellow pages & other business listings - if you know the business, but not address or number. Sometimes libraries and post offices will have the white pages to different states. A better alternative may be to search the white pages through the internet. For a very complete list, visit Telephone Directories on the Web (http://www.teldir.com). Directory Assistance - if you know an approximate name/address combination, but not number. Directory Assistance is a service provided by your phone company. Phone directory databases - usually prepared as a CD-ROM, listing all the phone numbers in Australia. this is particularly good for a reverse search: seeking the name and address from the phone number. Biographical Directories and Databases If the person is famous, newsworthy or historically important, this may be a worthwhile option. Directories like the series of Who's Who directories will list some basic biographical details, most likely prepared by the person involved. Who's Who directories exist for many categories and countries like Longman Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who or Who's Who in European Business. Alternatively, consider the collection of biographical directories and databases like Wilson Biography Index (see SilverPlatter or FirstSearch), Wilson Current Biography (SilverPlatter), Bowker Biographical Directory or Biography Master Index. The Wilson Biography Index, for example, cites a large number of periodicals & books which include biographies. There is also a simple biographical database online: Biography Online (www.biography.com), with 15000+ biographical abstracts - but most are really really short. Of course, for well-known people, consider an encyclopedia. Newspaper Search Local newspapers are a brilliant resource for information about individuals, and most anyone running a business will try to be featured in their local newspapers. The key here is local newspapers, and historical databases (not current news). There are no shortages of electronic access to good news too. DataTimes presents a single access point to many of the North American newspapers. Global Textline includes access to a wide range of different countries. With both these news archive databases, you must be careful to specify exactly what you are looking for. You would be surprised how many David Novak's there are in my state alone. Use the full text databases in particular. Asset Searches The asset search involves searching a selection of government databases for home and business ownership. The presence of a mortgage on a house is public knowledge (though the information is not particularly current). National business ownership databases, like ASCOT in Australia, will give you the ownership of businesses and association management. For a small fee through the department of business registration, or a collection of commercial retailers, you can search the ASCOT database by name. One elegant suggestion is to seek help from a professional information broker from the area where a person lives. The mailing list InfoPro is a particularly large collection of brokers who routinely distribute this kind of information. Consider emailing a request for assistance to the list manager James and ask your request be circulated to the mailing list. Reverse Telephone Directories. Previously these were primarily police resources, but today they have become tools for telephone marketing. CD's are pressed with all the phone numbers in Australia, or all the numbers in the US. The search function lets you run this as a reverse directory just by searching for the phone number. Look in the yellow pages, or perhaps ask a librarian for leads to these resources. Commercial Personal Information Profiles There are commercial products supporting the needs of human resource departments, legal research and the police. Information is collected and distributed as like Credit Reports, or personal profiles. As an example, running a level three Missing Links search on CDB (for about US$15.00) will usually return a US silent phone number. * CDB Infotek (www.cdb.com/public/) maintain a selection of commercial databases of personal information. Further firms have been mentioned as active in this industry, including American Information Network (http://www.ameri.com), Know-X and IRB OnLine (http://www.irb-online.com). Conclusion There is a serious issue as to the morality of easy access to personal information. There is an equally important moral value in empowerment: what is publicly available to should be publicly known. Beyond these resources we have to tools available to private investigators: rummaging though garbage cans, following the suspect, etc... There are also computer files and databases with better controlled access: drivers databases, police arrest records, voters registration, medical records, passport and immigration records, banking records. Most of the latter resources will only be available to you with the direct permission of the one involved. Further databases, like a database of known pedophiles, while available, would only be useful if you had previous suspicions. ___________________________________________________ Trademarks links and more at http://spireproject.com/t_mark.htm A patent protects your investment in an invention. Copyright covers your effort in a literary or artistic work. Trademarks protect your investment in identifying a product or service to the marketplace. Consider the striped IBM logo and the slogan Coke is it. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or combination identifying a product or service in the marketplace. This covers logos, marketing slogans, brand and trade names. In some circumstances, the trademark can cover colors or smells. Registered trademarks are trademarks granted additional legitimacy by the appropriate government agency. Common Law trademarks ('unregistered') are also protected, to a lesser degree. Both can be used to stop others using identical or similar marketing slogans, logos, brand and trade names. This article delves into the task of trademark research, that is, finding comparable trademarks. Nothing in here pertains to the legal aspects of trademark protection or infringement. Registered Trademark Databases The first step in trademark research is to search the national registered trademark databases. These databases are freely searchable online: * IP Australia (www.ipaustralia.gov.au) has the very user-friendly ATMOSS database online, and their more definitive (but nightmarish) Trade Marks Mainframe Database. * The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides US Trademarks online. Read the description/disclaimers/options for the US Trademark Database, or jump directly to the Boolean Search Page. * The Canadian Intellectual Property Office CIPO (cipo.gc.ca) delivers free online, the Canadian Trade-marks Database - all pending and registered trade-marks in Canada. Canada also publishes some of the best advice regarding trademarks. * Further countries are preparing English access to registered trademarks. Start with Rossco's WWW Corner which has a fine list of Patent Offices (http://www.pcug.org.au/~rossco/poffices.htm). Australia IP Australia (www.ipaustralia.gov.au) is the government organization responsible for Australian trademark concerns. Australia has about 800,000 registered trademarks, and access is freely available online through either the simple graphical interface of ATMOSS (Australian Trade Marks Online Search System), or through the slightly superior but difficult and non-graphical Trade Marks Mainframe Database (and the associated trademark viewer). The ATMOSS database allows you to search using either the description of the trademark, or the trade mark number. It is returns similar trademarks, with trademark number, class, description, date, status, and perhaps an image of the trademark. The [Australian] Trade Marks Mainframe Database is technically superior to ATMOSS as it is more current (about 3 days rather than about 2 weeks), has better field searching (by owners or phonetic) and includes references to correspondence regarding trademark registration. Unfortunately, the Trade Marks Mainframe Database is not graphical, and is probably not worth your time in learning. I am led to believe the superior field searching will gradually migrate to ATMOSS anyway. If you do wish to persevere, there is a manual online. Common Law Searching In most countries, but not all, registration of a trademark is not required to gain legal protection. Most trademarks are not registered, and enjoy considerable 'common law' legal protection under trade practices or fair dealing legislation. For this reason a trademark search must reach beyond the national registered trademark database, to search brand names, business names, and other sources of trademark usage. To quote the Trademark FAQ by the USPTO: "A common law search involves searching records other than the federal register and pending application records. It may involve checking phone directories, yellow pages, industrial directories, state trademark registers, among others, in an effort to determine if a particular mark is used by others when they have not filed for a federal trademark registration." Frequently Asked Questions About Trademarks (USPTO) (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/tmfaq.htm) The premise of a search is to find possible sources of trademark similarity. We search sites where trademarks appear. Business names and trademarks are not the same, but are often used interchangeably. A business name search may give you leads to possible trademark similarities. Phone directories (white and yellow), and national business name registers list business names. The internet is a fine site to search, especially since the search engines are prepared in a useful manner. I would search for word fragment in AltaVista, Debriefing, and Deja.com's usenet archive. See our articles: Searching the Web and Discussion Groups. Of course, this does not account for similar pronunciation, or the graphical elements of trademarks. Trademarks appear in trade magazines, but not often in the database formats, so this gives rise to the unenviable task of paging through likely magazines for similar trademark. One uncertain resources is the Lycos: Pictures and Sounds search facility. By indexing the alt=" " text from html pages, Lycos compiles a list of pictures on the web. A search for butterfly, for example, locates 100+ pictures labeled 'butterfly'. This might work to your benefit if the graphical element you are searching for is simple and distinct. Altavista has a similar service. Should you want to learn how trademarks are created, used and defended, consider these fine resources: * Trademark References by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), including: What's in a Name? Using trade-marks as a business tool, Glossary of Intellectual Property Terms, Trade-mark FAQ and Guide to Trade-marks (start at http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrksv/cipo/tm/tm_main-e.html) * All about Trademarks by Gregory H. Guillot at http://www.ggmark.com (unusual clarity on trademark law) including: A Guide to Proper Trademark Use, How are Marks Protected * General Information Concerning Trademarks by the USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/tm.html) including: Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks. Trademark Libraries In the countries with internet access to the trademark database, the libraries could be said to be redundant - except as a source for ample and personal assistance with your search. In other countries these libraries may be able to assist with searching. IP Australia has a patent & trademark library in each state capital. These libraries provide free access to the ATMOSS database but also offers the much-needed assistance for the troublesome Trade Marks Mainframe Database. The US has The Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDL's). In Canada, consider visiting Intellectual Property Links: Canadian by CIPO for possible sources of trademark assistance. In the UK, we presume the Patents Information Network (PIN) provides trademark assistance, through the is no freely searchable database to UK trademarks. Commercial Trademark Resources One of the most invaluable resources in serious trademark research is access to several of the very large commercial trademark databases. Lexis-Nexis (www.lexis-nexis.com) retails several trademark related databases. The Dialog Corporation (www.dialog.com) retails a collection of TRADEMARKSCAN databases to European countries, Canada, and US (federal & state). MicroPatent (www.micropat.com) offers access to a proprietary trademark database. More information coming. In addition to the database retailers and producers, there is a lively industry of trademark search assistance. There are numerous commercial firms on the internet selling trademark services; much of this is little more than an ad for trademark related litigation. Watching services are another possibility: These are not expensive but following the leads suggested will be. I can not yet advise you on a reliable trademark researcher. As a case in point, IP Australia provides a Business Names Applicant Search Service. A$40 buys you a search of the Australian registered trademark database by their trained staff. Contact IP Australia directly for this (Tel: +61 1300 651010) - they accept credit cards & fax/postal applications. ___________________________________________________ This document continues as Part 5/6 ___________________________________________________ Copyright (c) 1998-2001 by David Novak, all rights reserved. This FAQ may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, website, or BBS as long as it is posted unaltered in its entirety including this copyright statement. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author. Please send permission requests to david@spireproject.com