Guide to information sources in accounting and finance

Jean Shaoul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper gives a brief introduction to information sources of interest to students of Accounting and Finance. It has become increasingly common in the last few years to require students, both final year undergraduate and postgraduate, to write an extended essay or dissertation on a topic of their choosing, carry out a literature survey, study current or recent corporate events or seek background information on a service, company or industry which is the subject of some analysis. These activities are not restricted to the private sector but may also encompass the (former) public sector, both trading and service, and the voluntary sector. These forms of coursework, combined with very large student numbers, are placing increasing and different demands on academic libraries, particularly those which do not have business or commercial sub-libraries offering specialist services based upon expensive subscriptions to commercial information services. The availability of electronic formats has the potential to both change the nature of what may be purchased and used and also to increase students' access to information. Furthermore teaching staff are largely used to reading the academic research on a topic which may not be the most suitable or accessible material for this type of coursework, and/or may not themselves be familiar with the newer media and their potential. A guide was therefore written to help students find the materials they might need in the Library for their coursework in accounting and finance. It was assumed that they would not have access to a specialist Business School Library. In the course of preparing the Guide and requesting acquisitions for the Library, it became clear that the other Universities had similar needs and problems. The most frequent response, when asking colleagues at other universities and libraries how they dealt with the problem was the Gallic shrug and a request for any list of information sources as we were able to produce. Our first attempt to develop such a Guide for students is therefore reproduced here in response to those requests. More selfishly, it was hoped that its publication would elicit useful tips and suggestions which could be used to improve the Guide. Inevitably, there is some overlap with other subject areas, given the linkage between accounting and finance and other related subjects such as business, management, marketing, banking and administration. But as far as possible, these other areas have been omitted from the Guide. It has been amended to remove any institution-specific references and information. Similarly instructions relating to location, use and access have been omitted. A few electronic databases have been included which would normally only be made available to research students on a very restricted basis because of the expense. Nevertheless these have been included in this version of the guide for the sake of completeness. Some additional source material has been suggested which may be of use to teachers in making decisions in relation to stocking the library. This guide does not deal with journals or articles relating to information sources within journals. The journal, Business Information Review, is the most useful source of articles on the provision, sources and review of business information. Neither does this guide include many of the commercially produced financial databases as these are by and large too expensive for widespread student use. The number of CD-ROM based products is increasing all the time. This guide does not attempt to describe or even list all of them. The guide has three sections. In the first, sources of information about companies, industries and markets are outlined. In the second, brief descriptions of various bibliographical tools are given. The final section is a general selection of other relevant reference works.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1996


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