Skip to main content

 Business: Conducting Industry Research 



Important Terms

The North American Industry Classification Systemand the Standard Industrial Classificationare both numeric codes used to identify particular industries.  The NAICS is gradually replacing the SIC and lists 20 sectors and 1,170 industries in the US version.

Private Company
A company that does not permit the general public to buy and sell its shares.  

Public Company
A company whose stock can be bought and sold by the general public on a recognized stock exchange.  Public companies are required to file regular reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and to disclose financial information. 

Trade Associations
Organizations that promote the common interests of their members, including individuals and companies that work in and operate in the same industry.  Trade associations closely monitor particular industries reporting on statistics, trends, news, issues, and regulations.

Industry Profiles & Reports

IBIS World

Industries are arranged by NAICS code or can be searched for using keywords.  You also have the option of searching for a company and then linking to related industry reports.  There are over 700 industry profiles, which include key statistics, segmentation, market characteristics, industry conditions, key factors, key competitors, industry performance and outlook.

Business Source Premier (EBSCO) 

Click on the Publications tab and enter an industry name, for example "Footwear," in the Browse Publications search box.  Industry profiles contain market analysis, market value, market volume, market segmentation, and leading companies.  Industry profiles can also be found by doing a basic search combining a company name and the word profile, for example "Nike and Profile."  Click on the Industry Profiles link for a list of profiles specifically mentioning Nike.

Encyclopedia of American Industries - First Floor Reference Collection - HC102 .E53

Two volume set broken down by manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries. 

S&P Industry Surveys - First Floor Reference Collection - HG4905.S7401

Three volume set that is updated quarterly and covers over 50 industries.  Profiles include an analysis of the current environment and industry trends as well as information on how the industry operates, key industry ratios, and how to analyze a company operating in that industry.  

U.S. Industry & Market Outlook - First Floor Reference Collection - HC101.U56

Reports that provide historical and prospective information, including number of companies, number of employees, and annual sales, by industry.  

2002 Economic Census - Subject Series Reports

These 100+ page reports cover specific industries and provide detailed statistics by subsectors and geographic locations.

Annual Retail Trade Survey 

Includes accommodation and food services.  The purpose of this survey is to provide detailed industry measures of retail company activities.  Companies provide data on dollar value of retail sales, sales taxes collected, inventories, method-of-inventory valuation, cost of purchases, and account receivables balances.

Annual Survey of Manufacturers 

This web site provides access to PDF reports presenting manufacturing establishment statistics for industry groups and industries form the Annual Survey of Manufacturers (ASM).  Includes information such as the number of establishments, number of employees, cost of production, value of shipments, and capital expenditures.

Current Industrial Reports (CIR)

Under the U.S. Census Bureau, the CIR program provides measures of industrial activity with the primary objective being to produce timely, accurate data on production and shipments of selected products.

Service Annual Survey

This web site provides access to PDF reports presenting service industry statistics for industry groups.  Similar to the Annual Survey of Manufacturers listed above.

Industry Financials/Operating Ratios

D&B Industry Norms & Business Ratios - First Floor Reference Collection - HF5681.R25 I53

Uses actual company income statements and balance sheets to present benchmarks by SIC code covering 14 key business ratios.  Information is from the last completed calendar year.  

Almanac of Business & Industrial Financial Ratios - First Floor Reference Collection - HF5681.R25 T68

Lists 22 business ratios for over 160 industries.  Information presented is approximately three years old.

Edited by Patrick O'Rourke, CPA, this web site provides instant access to financial ratios, business statistics, and benchmarks.  

Industry Market Share & Rankings

Market Share Reporter - First Floor Reference Collection - HF5410.M35

Two volume set that contains market share information compiled from a wide variety of business sources.  This set is updated annually and is indexed by company name, brand name, industry, and product/service.

Business Rankings Annual - First Floor Reference Collection - HG4050.B88

Offers over 3,500 "top ten" lists compiled from a wide variety of business publications. 

S&P Industry Surveys - First Floor Reference Collection - HG4905.S7401

Organized by industry, with many industry profiles containing charts comparing leading companies.  There is also a comparative analysis of top companies within an industry at the end of each industry profile.

Ward's Business Directory - First Floor Reference Collection - HG4057.A575

Lists both public and private companies with rankings by industry.

Associations & Organizations

Encyclopedia of Business Information Sources - First Floor Reference Collection - HF5351 .E52

Encyclopedia of Associations - First Floor Reference Collection - HS17.G332

American Society of Association Executives - Gateway to Associations 

Google Directory of Associations by Industry 

Industry Portals by Polson Enterprises

Periodical Articles

Business Source Premier

Provides access to over 8,800 serials, including 1,100 peer-reviewed journals.  Coverage spans all business disciplines, including marketing, management, MIS, operations, accounting, finance and economics. 

For additional information or for assistance with company research, please contact Cathy Rudowsky, Business Librarian, 724-738-2657 

Hours of Operation*

7:45 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday 7:45 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m.-11 p.m.

*Service points close 15
minutes before closing time


Suggestion Box

Slippery Rock Digital Collections 

Slippery Rock University Archives Digital Collections