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Industry Research

This guide will help you perform industry research at WKU.

What are Industry Reports?

Industry reports, available in library databases, government websites, and other websites, contain valuable analysis of an industry's operating conditions, driving forces, competitive landscapes, and more. Many also contain the following:

  • Industry financials/ratios - Financial ratios, such as earnings per share, are figured by comparing two different elements of a company's financial statement. You can determine a company's performance and strength within an industry if you compare that company's ratios with those of the industry.
  • Market share data - Market share is the percentage of sales (by value or volume) that a brand or company has for a specific product or category.


  • Try related terms for keyword searches, like "automobile" or "car" or "vehicle." Databases may have different terms for the same or similar industry.
  • Be aware that many do not cover smaller niche industries and always check the date to see how current the information is.
  • Supplement these reports with information found in newspapers and trade publications.

A screen capture of an industry report from IBISWorld database entitled "Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Manufacturing"

Source: IBISWorld database

Resources for Finding Industry Reports

The resources below are free to access through WKU Libraries or are available freely on the internet. They are ranked in order of importance/usefulness, and are appropriate to cite in your research.

Searching Google for Industry Reports

Often, especially if you are researching a niche industry, you will not find everything you need in the databases or websites listed above.

Here are two steps to follow for searching Google for industry reports:

  1. Do a Google search structured like the following: industry description + report
    • Example: automobile industry + report
    • Example: beverage industry + report
    • Tip: Perform multiple searches using synonymous terms, like "automobile" vs. "car" vs. "vehicle, to make sure you capture everything.
  2. Evaluate the quality of the sources you find. To make sure a source you are using is reputable or appropriate for citing, consider the following criteria (or visit our Evaluating Sources guide):
    • Currency: When was the information published or posted? Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
      • For business research, you will need information published recently (preferably within the last 2-3 years)
    • Relevancy: Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question? Who is the intended audience?
    • Authority: Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor? What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
    • Accuracy: What is the source of the information? Does the author include citations/references for the information? 
    • Purpose: What is the purpose of the information? To inform? Teach? Sell? Entertain? Persuade?

As an example, let's evaluate the following source together:

Lodgify. (2021, October 19). U.S. Vacation Rental Industry Trends and Outlook for the Winter Season

  • It is current because it was written one year ago (it is 2022 at the time of writing this).
  • It is relevant if you are performing research on the vacation rental market.
  • The website was created by Lodgify, which is a vacation rental software solution for rental owners and managers. Since the company is heavily involved in the vacation rental industry, it is an authoritative source, but it could contain bias if it promotes its own business.
  • The information is not cited, but it is likely from the company's internal data, so it is hard to gauge accuracy.
  • The purpose of this information seems to be to educate people about the state of the market, as well as attract new customers. 

Based on the evaluation above, this source is appropriate to cite when performing industry research. However, because their are no sources cited, I would be somewhat wary and make sure to confirm the information by comparing it to another source.