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MONT 199N-S11: Sustainability and ESG (Richardson)

Spring 2024

Types of Sources

Different Sources for Different Purposes

Information comes in different formats to serve different needs. When you do research, think about what kind of information you need and where you are likely to find it. Some sources are more scholarly and aimed at an academic audience, while others are more general and aimed at non-experts. In business research, you will find sources aimed at industry professionals, investors, consumers, and corporate boards. You may also look for statistics, industry information, and market research. This section will give a brief overview of the different types of sources you may find and use in your business research, with suggestions for how to find them in library databases.

Click through the tabs at the top of this box to learn about each type of source.

Take Time to Explore

Especially when you are new to this type of research, it is worth it to spend some time exploring different databases and their features. Give yourself time to try different searches, look at different filters, and click through your results. This will help you see the different types of sources and reports included in a database and the different ways to find what you're looking for.

Scholarly Sources

scholarly or peer-reviewed source has been written by an expert in the subject (ex., a professor or other researcher), and has been reviewed and approved by a group of other experts (their peers). It is written for an academic audience and will usually present original research in a specific field. The language is more technical and complex and assumes the reader will already be familiar with key concepts and terms in the field. 

The NC State Libraries provide an interactive diagram of a scholarly article that you can view to see the different components.

Scholarly articles are found in academic journals that publish research in a specific subject area. You can browse Business and Economics journals available through Holy Cross Libraries here.


Most databases in the Holy Cross Libraries A-Z Databases list will include scholarly sources. The list below includes some suggestions for business-specific databases. See the "Library Databases" section on this page for more information about library databases.


CrossSearch is the Holy Cross Libraries' one-stop search tool that lets you search most of the informational resources available through the library, including scholarly sources, popular sources, print books, ebooks, archival materials, media and more. This can be a good place to start if you want to see a broad scope of the resources available on your topic. However, because CrossSearch includes so many types of resources, you might find you need to filter these results more than you would in a more specific database.

CrossSearch is best accessed through the library home page ( It is the default search box on the home page.

Popular Sources

A popular source is written for a more general audience and may provide a more broad overview of a topic. The author is not necessarily an expert in the specific subject and is usually a general journalist or freelance writer. These articles do not go through peer review and may be edited by a single editor or editorial board. An example of a popular source is an article in a magazine. This includes general newspapers like the New York Times, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and the Washington Post in addition to more industry or subject-specific papers like the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist.

Databases and Subscriptions

There are a few ways to access popular sources through Holy Cross. For some newspapers, Holy Cross provides an active subscription to that paper. This means you can create an account and use the web version of the newspaper to access current articles and features. Other newspapers are available through our databases. These often still include current issues, but they are found in plain text format in a database, not on the actual newspaper site. The list below includes both subscription and database access. For subscriptions, you may need to set up an account when you first access the site.

Trade Journals

A trade journal is a publication aimed at a specific industry or profession. Articles in a trade journal usually discuss current trends in the field, news, technological developments, professional communication, and updates on common practices and regulations in the field. They are written by specialists or journalists in the industry and are typically brief and to the point. Trade journals will use technical language specific to the industry. In research, trade journals can be helpful for understanding how an industry functions, what issues are affecting that industry, and what trends or developments are happening. Trade journals can also be a good place to look if you are considering a career in a certain industry and want to get familiar with it.

Examples: Harvard Business Review, Advertising Age.


Search Strategies

The two databases listed above are from different publishers, so they will have slightly different search interfaces. They also each include a wide range of business publications that may be different from the other. It can be helpful to search in multiple databases to give yourself a broad scope of sources to consult. The strategies described in this section will be useful in any database, but the specific features may look slightly different.

ABI/Inform Complete lets you filter your results for trade journals. Enter your search term and click search. On the results page, the left side of the screen has different filters. Under Source Type, select Trade Journals (you may need to click "More" under the list of source types to see it). You can also select this before you search by selecting Advanced Search on the database home page. Scroll down to the list of source types and check the box next to Trade Journals, then enter your search terms at the top of the page and click search. It will automatically apply the filter.

Industry Reports and Market Research

An industry report gives an overview of a specific industry or market. It will typically include key terms, trends, economic data, and notable companies in that industry. Some reports also assess risk of investments and financial projections for the industry. These are written by analysts or experts and often published by consulting firms.


Search Strategies

The two databases listed above, Business Market Research Collection and ABI/INFORM Complete, are from the same publisher and have the same search interface. They have slightly different contents, so it may be useful to search in both and see what you find. Business Market Research Collection is more focused on company information and market research, while ABI/INFORM Complete also includes scholarly sources and a wider collection of trade journals.

To find market research and industry reports, search for the industry your company is part of. For example, if your company is Ford, you may try searching for "automotive" or "auto." On the results page, the left side of the screen has different filters. Under Source Type, select Reports (you may need to click "More" under the list of source types to see Reports). Scan through the results that come up to see how reports in your industry are labeled. Are there sub-sections of the industry? For example, a search for "automotive" shows reports on consumer habits, automotive body, paint, interior & glass repair, maintenance services, and more. Explore some of the results that come up to see how your industry is studied. 

Business Data and Datasets

You may need to find data specific to a particular industry or business. Holy Cross has some databases that include different types of data. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with a librarian if you are looking for data. These databases can be tricky to navigate and a librarian can help walk you through them to find what you're looking for.


Library Databases

About Databases

A database is a collection of information that is arranged and tagged for easy searching and retrieval. Think of a database like an online storage container: It stores different publications, journals, books, magazines, and newspapers and makes it possible for you to access them. The library subscribes to over 300 databases that are available for Holy Cross students to use. Visit our A-Z Databases list to see what is available.

General Databases

General databases include information and journals that cover many subjects and academic fields. These can be a good place to start if you’re not sure what subject your topic falls under, if your topic is interdisciplinary and falls under multiple subject areas, if you want to see perspectives from different fields about your topic, or if you simply want to find general information.

To find general databases, go to the A-Z Database List. In the dropdown menu labeled "Subjects," select "_General" and click "Search." You will see a list of general databases, with some highlighted as "Best Bets." Some general databases are listed below.



CrossSearch is a one-stop search tool that lets you search most of the informational resources available through the library, including: Books, ebooks, archival materials, media and music scores owned by the Holy Cross Libraries; Research databases like Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, ARTstor and ProQuest Central; E-journal collections like JSTOR and ScienceDirect; The Holy Cross digital repository CrossWorks; Open Access collections such as HaithiTrust Digital Library.

As you can see, CrossSearch looks in many different places and for many different types of sources. In one search, you might see results for academic journal articles, books in the library’s collection, films, newspaper articles, and more. This can be a good place to start if you want to see a broad scope of the resources available on your topic. However, because CrossSearch includes so many types of resources, you might find you need to filter these results more than you would in a more specific database.

CrossSearch is best accessed through the library home page (

Screenshot of the CrossSearch search box

Subject Databases - Business

Subject databases include journals and publications from a specific academic field. They may include a number of different publications, but they are all within the same academic area. These can be helpful if you want to look at one specific subject or field.

To find subject databases, go to the A-Z Database List. In the dropdown menu labeled "Subjects," select your subject area and click "Search." Some Business/Economics databases are listed below.

Subject Databases - Environmental Studies

When deciding what database to use, think about what perspective or point of view you're interested in reading. Business databases will provide a more business and economics-focused point of view, but what if you want to know about the other side of the sustainability question? Databases focused on Environmental Studies may discuss similar issues from a different perspective. Exploring different subject areas can help you gain a well-rounded understanding of an issue.

To find subject databases, go to the A-Z Database List. In the dropdown menu labeled "Subjects," select your subject area and click "Search." Some Environmental Studies databases are listed below.

Newspaper and Magazine Databases

Holy Cross provides access to many local, national, and global newspapers and magazines, including archives dating back to the 17th century. Some are active subscriptions that allow you to access the current online version of a newspaper, while others are indexed in a separate database. To see all newspaper and magazine databases, go to the A-Z Database List. In the dropdown menu labeled "Types," select "Newspaper & Magazines" and click "Search."

Some newspaper subscriptions relevant to business and economics are listed below. Note that you will need to create an account the first time you use any of these.

Social Issue Databases

Holy Cross subscribes to some databases that feature content related to current and social issues. These may be helpful as you research specific policies, environmental actions, or other topics related to sustainability and business ethics.

Search Strategies

Identify Keywords

Keywords are terms we use when searching for information. Searching in a library database is a little different from how you might be used to searching in a search engine like Google. In a search engine, you can type in entire phrases or questions and the algorithm will be able to parse through that to return the results you want. In a database or library search, you need to be more precise. By choosing your keywords strategically, you can maximize your search to make sure you're getting the information you want.

  1. To identify keywords, start with your research topic or question. What are the important words or phrases in your question that sum up your topic? Write those words down. 
  2. Next, look at your list and try to come up with 2-3 synonyms or other ways of referring to each concept. How do authors and researchers in the field refer to your topic? 
  3. Think about how to narrow down your search by adding clarifying words or making your terms more specific. Are you looking for information about a specific location or population? Are there more specific ways to refer to your topic?

Combine Your Search Terms

You can use the words AND, OR, and NOT to combine your search terms for precise searching. These are called Boolean operators and each one has a different purpose. Using these can help narrow or broaden your search, and can help you combine topics to find more specific results. These strategies can be used in any library catalog or database.

  • Use AND to combine your search terms. Each search result with include all of the terms. This can help narrow your results.
    • If you want to know about a company's sustainability efforts, try a search for (name of company) AND sustainability. This will show results that include both the company and sustainability in key fields.
  • Use OR to find results that contain at least one of your search terms. This can help you broaden your results, and can be good to use if the subject you're searching for is referred to in different ways.
    • If a company has different names or subsidiaries and you want to find information about any of them, use OR to connect the terms. Searching for facebook OR meta will show results that use either name.
  • Use NOT to exclude terms from your results. This can help you narrow your topic by removing a related term that you are not interested in finding sources about. You typically won't use this strategy on your first search, but you may find it's helpful to add in after you've done a search and find a lot of irrelevant results.
    • For example, there is a chocolate brand called Dove and a soap brand called Dove. They are two completely different companies. If you were researching the soap brand, you might search for Dove NOT chocolate. This would filter out any results that include "chocolate" in their key terms. (In this example, another strategy would be to use the parent company names in your search - Mars for the chocolate and Unilever for the soap.)

Filter Your Results

Many databases have built-in filters to let you narrow down your results. You can often filter by publication date, type of publication, subject, publisher, language, and availability of full text. Many business databases also have filters for companies/organizations. Using these filters can help you take a long list of search results and narrow it down to what you're really looking for.