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New sources for story ideas: Journals & academic publications

August 24, 2017

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Academic and specialty journals are full of story ideas for business jouranlists. (Image by "Tegula" via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain)
Academic and specialty journals are full of story ideas for business jouranlists. (Image by "Tegula" via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

Whether you’re on staff or freelancing, generating ideas is part of your business coverage. The more productive your brainstorming, the more stories you have to develop.

Many business reporters will look to standard reads: The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and niche industry publications. But when scouting for new ideas relevant to your beats, also consider industry journals and lesser-known academic publications.

It may sound dry, but the rewards are hard to argue with.

Look for publications that cover areas any business must address—marketing, operations, logistics, accounting, IT, customer support or finance, to name some. No matter what your beat—energy, agriculture, tech or manufacturing—the companies you cover must address all of these activities.

Take marketing, for example. When I searched for “marketing journals,” I found such titles as the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing and International Journal of Research in Marketing all on the first page.

If you want a better sense of which journals are considered the most important and, therefore, influential by experts, add the word “ranking” to that web search. For marketing journals, that led me to an article ranking dozens of titles. Not only will that help you focus on where the top research might be, but it will also provide names of additional journals for further research.

Go to one of the journal sites and you may find that many of the individual articles are unavailable if you don’t have a subscription or institutional affiliation. However, you’ll likely find a list of articles for each issue. Go through, read the abstracts and see if something sounds of interest. You can then contact the researchers (names and institutional affiliations are listed) or you could try a web search for the paper’s title in quotes, as PDF forms are often available somewhere on the Internet.

Go-to sources

Although my examples were for marketing, you can substitute any corporate activity. Over time, you’ll find some favorites. Here are a few of mine:

• National Bureau of Economic Research Also called NBER, it has working papers on many topics that can be of interest. Being a journalist, you can register for free access.

• INFORMS This publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences covers highly mathematical treatments that search for the best ways to undertake many of the operational concerns of any business. Check the organization’s news room for some plainer-English releases and links to full versions. There’s also a media contact if you’re looking for a copy of something not readily available.

• Journal of Consumer Marketing The materials may not be available from the site, but you can use the techniques I mentioned above to look for copies.

• Google Scholar Lets you perform searches across large collections of academic journals.

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