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Overview of Business Research: Accounting and Information Systems

A sampling of resources available for business research.


Annual Reports & SEC Filings

Annual Reports - Corporate:

An annual report can help the reader gain a comprehensive overview of a company. It provides details about the financial condition of a company, and offers insight into that company's management business philosophies.

Investors usually can expect to find the following items in a company's annual report:

  • A summary of the previous year
  • Company structure, product line, and subsidiaries information
  • A letter to shareholders from the President or CEO
  • A detailed  discussion about the company's financial results
  • Financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, etc.)
  • Notes to the financial statements
  • Company information often not included in other documents

Many companies have copies of Annual Report(s) as well as other financial statements available to current and prospective investors on the Investor Relations (IR) page of thier corporate websites. Click here to see a sample IR web browser search tutorial.

CAROL UK Companies (Requires Free Reg.)

IRIN (Investor Relations Information Network)


Annual Reports - Non-profit (IRS Form 990)

When most people think of Annual Reports they usually think of the corporate variety. Many non-profit organizations, foundations, and charities also produce annual reports. These reports can be useful for assessing the performance of an organization.

How to Read the IRS From 990

  • 10 Significant pieces of information that can be found in the Form 990:
  • Identity and Tax Status
  • Amount of Income Received and Sources
  • Total Expense Breakdown
  • Net Assets
  • Programs and Expenditures
  • Board Member and Staff Compensation
  • New Activity, Governing Process Changes and Excess Benefits
  • Self-dealing Transactions
  • Private Foundation Status
  • Lobbying Efforts


Charity Navigator (Requires Free Reg.)

Foundation Center

GuideStar (Requires Free Reg.)


SEC Filings

SEC Filings (Descriptions) are filings required of U.S. public parent companies by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). International companies with securities traded in the U.S. must also file (20F).

Hoover's Company Capsules & Profiles

SEC.Gov (EDGAR) View the SEC Edgar Tutorial

An alternative is to use Yahoo! Finance to find a company's financials. Click here to see a short tutorial on how to find SEC Filings using Yahoo! Finance.


Merrill Lynch: How to Read a Financial Report

The Merril Lynch Guide to Understanding Financial Reports


Standards and Interpretations

Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

  • Action Alert
  • FASB Pronouncements & EITF Abstracts (Includes the following content):
    • Statements of Financial Accounting Standards
    • Statements of Financial Accounting Concepts
    • FASB Interpretations
    • FASB Staff Positions
    • FASB Technical Bulletins
    • EITF Abstracts

 Original Pronouncements -- Library Call No. HF5616.U5 A36

Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASAB)

 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)