Purpose ‐ Research on the use/disclosure of intellectual capital (IC) information by sell-side analysts, using content analysis of their reports, is growing. This paper aims to establish the importance of this perspective in understanding the role of IC in communicating firm value, to introduce possible theoretical frameworks to interpret the findings of such studies, and to propose methodological developments. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper argues for the need to look at IC from the perspective of sell-side analysts, and then advocates the use of several theoretical frameworks to enrich current understanding of the role of IC as it is used/disclosed by sell-side analysts. Current methodologies used in this type of research are critiqued with a view to proposing multiple research methods. Findings ‐ Looking at IC from the sell-side analyst perspective helps us to understand how the capital market appreciates this information. However, IC information that analysts disclose cannot be taken at its face value. Issues of signalling, analysts' incentives/influences, political economy view and globalisation are introduced as providing theoretical frameworks for explaining IC disclosure in sell-side analysts' reports. To obtain a richer picture of the role of IC information in analysts' decision processes, multiple research methods are proposed. Practical implications ‐ The proposals in this paper may inform and guide future research on IC information use/disclosure by sell-side analysts with theoretical underpinnings and methodological rigour. Originality/value ‐ This paper is the first attempt to propose possible theories for interpreting findings of studies on IC use/discsloure by sell-side analysts and suggest multiple research methodologies in this type of research.