The secure electronic distribution of research documents over the world wide web to investors who are authorized to receive said research documents. A repository server receives research documents from contributors. Also received are corresponding document profiles with information relating to each research document including authorization information specifying who is permitted to access each research document. The repository server includes a first database for structured query searches and a second database for full text searches. A web server is coupled to the repository server and coupled to the world wide web. The web server receives requests from investors for research documents that satisfy a query. The web server determines whether the first database or the second database should be searched based upon the type of query. The repository server transmits to the web server a list of research documents that satisfy the query and which the investor is authorized to access according to the authorization information. The web server formats the list of documents according to a template form. Optionally, queries can be optimized. The system has a control mechanism to prevent concurrent unauthorized access by two people using the same ID/password combination.