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Information Research FAQ v.4.7 (Part 4/6)

Information Research FAQ: Resources, Tools & Training
Archive-name: internet/info-research-faq/part4
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: April 2002
Copyright: (c) 2001 David Novak
Maintainer: David Novak <>

                  Information Research FAQ     (Part 4/6)

            100 pages of search techniques, tactics and theory
          by David Novak of the Spire Project (

    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

    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 and
    and with pictures at

    This FAQ is an element of the Spire Project,
    the primary free reference for information research and an important
    resource for search assistance.

    ***    The Spire Project also includes a 3 hour public seminar titled
    ***    Exceptional Internet Research. This is a fast paced seminar
    ***    supported with a great deal of webbing, reaching to skills and
    ***    research concepts beyond the ground covered on our website and
    ***    this FAQ. has a synopsis.
    ***    I am in Europe, seminaring in Ireland and Europe though I
    ***    will be returning to the US shortly, and South Australia for
    ***    a seminar this October.

    David Novak -
    The Spire Project : and

    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

                           Information by Field
                                 Section 6

                             Country Profiles
           links and more at

    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

    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, 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

    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
    ( 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.

    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

    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

    PIERS - Port traffic database.
    PIERS ( 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

    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
    (, 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 ( publishes a collection of 33 small
    business profiles, free on the net but unfortunately slightly dated
    now. Start at

    * 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

    * 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

    * The Locating Books article will help you find alternative books.

    Commercial Benchmark Compilations

    * FMRC Benchmarking Team (Australia)
    The FMRC Business Benchmarks ( ) are Australian
    business benchmarks, recording the expected costs as a percentage and
    certain business ratios for a range of mostly small business

    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.

    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

                            Company Information
           links and more at

    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

    * Use Altavista to find a specific commercial website. Specifically use
    the url:name function (like url:nike).
    * Alternatively, use Debriefing (, a
    meta-search engine optimized for finding names and named websites.
    * If you still have difficulties, consider a local or national search

    Government Disclosure Documents
    Governments require all companies to release some information - some of
    this is made public. Much greater information is released from public

    * 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 (, 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

    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 &

    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

    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
    ( lists
    many of the business-related electronic news sources available on the

    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

    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 (
    * Standard & Poor
    * Dun & Bradstreet
    * Moody's - Moody's Corporate Profiles
    * Disclosure (
    * Value Line Investment Survey
    * Worldscope (, a global database.

    For a fine, European dominated list of country profile retailers, read
    Sheila Webber's article: Company Profiles and Financial Information

    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 ( - 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.

    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

    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).

    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

    Online Industry Information
    Market Access Database (, 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

    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
    (, a free
    database presenting US & Canadian Trade broken down to industry (SEC &

    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
    ( 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 (, 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

    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 (

    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 ( 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

    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".

    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.

    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

    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 ( is an important and
    flexible tool for finding email & address information.

    * Switchboard ( also offers several people search

    * 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
    ( 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 (

    Tracing Online Communication usenet archive ( maintains a very large database
    of newsgroup discussion. The'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 (

    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
    (, with 15000+ biographical abstracts - but most are
    really really short. Of course, for well-known people, consider an

    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 ( maintain a selection of commercial
    databases of personal information.

    Further firms have been mentioned as active in this industry, including
    American Information Network (, Know-X and IRB
    OnLine (

    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.

           links and more at

    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

    * IP Australia ( 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 ( 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 (

    IP Australia ( 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

    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)

    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'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

    * All about Trademarks by Gregory H. Guillot at
    (unusual clarity on trademark law) including: A Guide to Proper
    Trademark Use, How are Marks Protected

    * General Information Concerning Trademarks by the USPTO
    ( 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 ( retails several trademark related

    The Dialog Corporation ( retails a collection of
    TRADEMARKSCAN databases to European countries, Canada, and US (federal
    & state).

    MicroPatent ( 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

    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

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