This tutorial will help you learn about trade sources:

  • what they are
  • why they are used for business research
  • and how to find them

Later in this tutorial you will be using the website on the right side of the screen.  For now, just use the arrows below to advance to the next page.

What are Trade Sources?

Trade sources provide information for readers who are interested in a particular industry or trade.

Trade publications or "the trades" are often sponsored by trade associations, which are professional organizations whose members are affiliated with a particular industry.

What is included in a trade publication?

Trade publication articles are written by industry experts or reporters who know how to find information about specific types of businesses.  The articles usually contain jargon that would be familiar to subscribers of the publication.

In addition to industry news and trends, trade publications may  include:

  • Illustrations and ads for industry products
  • Statistics and listings of top companies
  • Executive profiles
  • "State-of-the-industry" reports

Why are trade publications important for business research?

1 of 2Readers of trade publications have a special interest in keeping up with trends in a specific industry, so a trade publication is generally more focused and includes more industry data than a newspaper or popular magazine.

For example, while a general business magazine such as Forbes might occasionally publish articles on the auto industry, the trade publication called Automotive News will devote every issue to auto industry news.

Why are trade publications important for business research?

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Question:  If you are looking for information on Kroger, a grocery retailer, which publication is most likely to have articles on the company and its industry?

How do you find trade publications?

You can often find trade associations and publications through a simple keyword search on the internet.

When you find a trade association's website, check for menu headings like the ones listed below to find information for your research assignment:

  • Industry Trends
  • Resources & Publications
  • Data or Statistics
  • Media/Press Relations
  • Helpful links

Note:  Trade associations can provide links to research studies on their websites, but sometimes access is restricted to the association's members.  It's always worth checking though--even limited access to a report may provide leads for your research.

An example of a trade association & publication

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Now take a look at the website on the right side of the page.  Frequent users of this website are most likely affiliated with which industry?

An example of a trade association & publication

2 of 2That's right--Members of the International Carwash Association (ICA) are involved in the retail and supply segments of the carwash industry.

As you scroll down and review the ICA website, you will notice that the association provides several services for its members, including a trade publication called CAR WASH magazine. 

Finding a Trade Publication

1 of 2Even if you cannot find a trade publication on an association's website, you may have access to the publication through one of the library databases at Butler University.

Click here now to go a database that has full-text articles from trade publications.

Finding a Trade Publication

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On the right side of the screen, you should now see the search screen for the EBSCO Business Source Complete database (if you're on campus) or a login screen (if you're off campus).

If you're off campus and the login screen appears, type your Butler ID and password to access Business Source Complete.

What is Business Source Complete?

Business Source Complete is a database of business information, and it is one of many business databases available to Butler students through the Library website. It is also one of the easiest databases to use to find trade publication articles.

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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Earlier in this tutorial, you reviewed a trade website for the carwash industry. Now let's try to find trade publications for another industry.

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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Assume you are looking for information on plastic bottles, such as the kind used for bottled water or soft drinks.

Start by entering the phrase plastic bottles in the search box on the screen to the right. Then click the green Search button.

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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You should now see a Results page. Take note of the total number of results found.

At this point in your search process, the results will be from a variety of publication types, including scholarly journals, newspapers, research reports, and popular magazines.

To narrow your results to just trade publications, scroll down the Results page and look in the left column for the heading called "Source Types." Under this heading, click on the box next to "Trade Publications."

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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Notice that the total number of results has decreased or "narrowed."

Now scroll through the first few pages of results, and look at the publication titles listed in the citations. Here's an example of where you would find the publication title in a citation on Business Source Complete:

article citation with publication title highlighted

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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As you look at the results, you may see articles from publications such as Plastics News, Popular Plastics & Packaging, or Beverage Industry.

These are trade publications with articles written by industry experts. Almost every issue of these publications will have news or statistics related to the topic of "plastic bottles."

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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Remember--you can use this same search technique in the Business Source Complete database to find trade publication articles on many other topics. The articles will help you collect information on trends, products, services, and major companies within a specific industry.

Try this the next time you need information for your business research assignment.

Finding Trade Publication Articles

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Congratulations!  You've now completed the tutorial on trade sources.  If you have questions, please contact your Business Librarian.

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