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Business Honours Guide: Refining Search Results

Refining Results

There are a number of ways you can refine your results so that you can find the most relevant articles. These include:

  • Field searching
  • Using facets
  • Thesaurus/Subject headings

Field Searching

Records in library databases are comprised of fields containing specific pieces of bibliographic information. Limiting your search to specific fields can yield more precise results. Common fields include:

  • author
  • title
  • journal title
  • abstract
  • publisher
  • date/year of publication
  • subject/descriptor

Searching within the abstract fields (AB) can be particularly helpful. This is because abstracts, as summaries of articles, are very keyword-rich: If you get a 'hit' on a keyword in an abstract you will usually find the article is relevant. The abstract is also a good source to find additional keywords you can use in your search strategies.

Depending on the database you have selected and the content it includes you will see a varying list of field options. For example in EBSCOhost Business Source Complete the following Fields are also available:

  • Geographic terms
  • People
  • Reviews & Products
  • Company Entity
  • NAICS Code or Description
  • DUNS Number
  • Author supplied keywords

Thesaurus/Subject Headings

Journal databases use a controlled vocabulary when indexing article records to enable information to be grouped by topic. By controlling the vocabulary, the database ensures that synonyms and similar phrases are collected under one accepted term. You can search using a database's vocabulary. When you are in a database there will usually be a hyperlink near the search boxes called thesaurus, subjects, or subject headings

Using Facets

Most databases also allow you to limit your search or refine your results set by facets. The options will depend on the database you are searching.

Common facets include:

  • date
  • language
  • subject area
  • geographical area
  • material type
  • journal title

In many cases, you can also limit a search to scholarly or peer reviewed articles.

Make use of the material or publication type options across databases as this will allow you to refine your results to see particular resources types including:

  • reviews
  • market and industry reports
  • government reports
  • conference papers
  • journal articles
  • trade publications
  • case studies
  • thesis

Thesaurus searching in EBSCOhost