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Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship

This guide offers starting points for your research in entrepreneurship and for entrepreneurial endeavors. All resources are available to you online when you're signed in to Brown's network.

Getting Started

Do you already know what you are looking for? You may want to go straight to the business and entrepreneurship resource guide.

If you are not sure where to start, this page can help guide you in your research process. Note! The type of information you might be looking for will be different depending on where you are in the entrepreneurial process and if you are doing academic research or creating a new venture. However, when it comes to the types of information sources practitioners and researchers use, there is less difference than you might think.

Use these prompts to get started:

  • Identify: What stage in the entrepreneurial or research process are you in?
  • Analyze: Who else is interested in this information? How does that person, group or industry access, value, share and discover information? Where have you seen something similar to what you are looking for?
  • Locate: Does this information already exist or do you need to produce it through bottom-up or primary research? Is this public or private information? Is it available for free or through the library?

Layers of Information - Top-Down Research Sources

government building outline Government Agency

Example: Small Business Association (SBA), Department of Education, Rhode Island Council of the Arts
Type: reports on industries, public data, statistics and demographics, legal and regulatory information
Use for: ideation, market/industry/legal/scholarly research, pitch deck development (public data)
Locate: via agency websites, try adding to Google searches

ngo buildingResearch Institution/Nonprofits/Think Tanks

Example: Brown University, Pew Research Center, National Bureau of Economic Research
Type: public and commissioned (not public) reports known as white papers, videos, public polling
Use for: emerging trends, scholary and market research
Locate: via public repositories, Library Subscription Databases, try agging and .edu to Google searches

arrows exchanging in a boxTrade Associations

Example: National Association of Manufacturers, American Hotel & Lodging Association
Type: directories, product lists, magazines, reports, fact sheets/data on industries or consumers
Use for: supply chain research, emerging trends, industry/market/competitor/consumer research
Locate: via association websites, conference proceedings, news

person with briefcase in front of factoryPrivate Sector

Example: Companies (Apple, Alphabet, Samsung), Services (Nielsen-Norman Group)
Type: newsletters, reports, financial information, surveys
Use for: industry/market/competitor/consumer research
Locate: SEC Filings, news, Library Subscription Databases

computer screen with books in itLibrary Catalog(s)

Example: BruKnow, WorldCat
Type: research guides, handbooks, example business plans, SWOT analysis
Use for: locating books, selecting databases, browsing articles, finding market research reports, handbooks, directories

database diagramDatabases

Example: IBIS World, Pitchbook, Business Source Complete, Proquest Business Collection, Nexis Uni
Type: articles, scholarly publications, data, Company, country, industry and market reports, business directories, public polls
Use for: every stage of the entrepreneurial or research process
Locate: A to Z Database List -- Filter by subject to 'Business & Entrepreneurship", Schedule a Research Consultation with the Library


Layers of Information adapted from Where do I Find Business Information (Grace Liu) CC BY-SA 3.0 US

Icons from the Noun Project: database by ProSymbols licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents database; private sector by Wichai Wi licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents database; exchange by Made licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents trade associations; NGO Office by OCHA Visual licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents NGOs; Government by Vicons Design licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents government; and Library by Maria Kislitsina, IL licensed under CC BY 3.0 represents library catalogs.