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Last Updated: Jun 19, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Getting Started Print Page

Where Do I Start?

The purpose of this guide is to help you find information about companies.  Multiple free and subscription sources are available:

Ø What the company tells you:

company websites, promotional materials, catalogs, price lists,etc.

Ø What the company keeps confidential:

internal information, trade secrets, etc.

Ø What the company has to disclose to the government:

10Q, 10K, other SEC forms, economic census, state filings

Ø What others say about the company:

news, blogs, research articles, books, market research, analyst reports, government, industry and trade experts, etc. 

Remember that, as a UTSA student, you don't need to buy information, the library already buys it for you! Check with us if you have any questions.

Evaluate Information

Critically evaluate your sources using the CRRAB framework:

      currency   (when)
  • Do you need current or historical data?
  • When was the information created/updated?
  • Any major events happened since the information was published?
R      relevance   (what)
  • Is the information relevant to your topic?

R      reliability   (how)

  • What are the sources?
  • Are they credible? 
  • Are the methods of collecting information and analysis disclosed?
A      author (who)
  • Is the author qualified to write on a topic?
  • What are his/her credentials?

     bias (why)

  • Is there a discernible conflict of interest?
  • Is the topic presented from alternative viewpoints?

    Availability of Company Information

    less information ◊ more information  >


    Private vs. Public

    Before you start your company research, find out whether the company is public or private.  
    Public Company 
    (publicly-held, listed)
    • Sells shares to general public to raise capital
    • Regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    • Required to disclose financial information to SEC and shareholders
    • Listed on one of stock exchanges and has a ticker symbol 
    Private Company 
    (privately-held, unlisted)
    • May be owned by founders, employees , and large investors (venture capitalists)
    • No disclosure of information is required


    Glossary: What's the Difference?

    Multiple terms may be used to describe companies, each with a varying meaning and in different contexts.



    Company: a business enterprise; an inclusive term for any type of business organization which can be a proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation.

    Closely-held company: a publicly-traded or private company where a small group of shareholders controls the majority of shares.

    Enterprise: a company, firm, or other commercial entity, whether private or public, for profit or nonprofit. Often applied to a newly formed venture. May consist of many physical locations, or establishments. The term is used by the U.S. Bureau of Census.

    Establishment: a single physical location where business is conducted, or where services are performed. The term is used by the U.S. Bureau of Census for any business location that has one or more employees. Many businesses operate in multiple establishments. The establishment definition varies among industry groups because of differences in structure or standard practices.

    Firm:  a commercial partnership of two or more persons; the name or designation under which a company transacts business. Legally firm refers only to an non-incorporated business.

    Franchise: an arrangement in which an independent business operates one or more establishments under license by the parent company, which may provide training, advertising, and financing.

    Legal Structure


    Corporation: a legal entity created by state charter, endowed with specific powers and capable of surviving the deaths of its owners. May be profit and nonprofit (educational, scientific, charitable and religious). Stockholders and employees of a corporation cannot be held personally responsible for any debt or lawsuits faced by the company.

    Partnership: an association of two or more people for the purpose of jointly owning a business.

    Sole proprietorship:  the simplest and most common form of business organization. The major legal requirement is that the founder register the business name with the local government where the company will reside.

    Corporate Family Structure


    (see more under under Corporate Family tab)


    Parent Company: a company that controls or owns another company or companies.

    Subsidiary: a corporation in which more than 50% of its voting stock is owned by another company.  The subsidiary may have a different name than the controlling corporation.

    Wholly owned subsidiary:  100 % of the firm's stock or assets have been acquired by the parent.

    Compiled from:
    Dictionary of business terms by Jack P. Friedman, 2000.
    Business information : needs and strategies  by Eileen G. Abels and Deborah P. Klein, 2008.

    Business Librarian

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    Natasha Arguello
    Contact Info
    UTSA Libraries
    JPL 4.04.08V
    One UTSA Circle
    San Antonio, TX 78249
    Send Email

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