Making Subject Headings work for you – targeting your search using the Thesaurus in ProQuest and Ebsco

Are you having trouble finding relevant articles in your database search results? Are you struggling to identify the right keywords to define your topic? The Thesaurus could help!

It might sound like something out of Jurassic World, but a database thesaurus is actually a searchable list of the ‘controlled’ subject headings used by that database. These standardised headings are used ‘tag’ articles to help you find what you want. Since terminology can change from country to country and over time, these standardised subject headings can pick up articles which you might miss when you think of your own keywords. The Thesaurus will also show you broader, narrower and related terms which can help to guide your search.

So, for example, if you look up ‘Strategic Management’ in the ProQuest Thesaurus, you’ll find ‘Corporate management’ as a broader term and ‘Balanced scorecard’ as a narrower term. You’ll also find related terms such as ‘Enterprise risk management’, ‘Market strategy’ and ‘Strategic planning’. You could add some or all of those terms to your search to find articles you need.

ProQuest has made a short video to help you find and use the Thesaurus. It’s well worth a look!

The Thesaurus in Ebsco’s Business Source Complete works in a similar way. There’s a guide available with more help and information.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please get in touch with us at

Get the intel on Mintel! (And other sources of market research information)

Have you used Mintel, our fantastic source of information for marketing research, yet? If not, or if it’s been a while, take a look at the brand new video tutorials  now available on the Mintel help pages. The videos cover the following areas:-

  • Category Overviews

Useful if you want to browse the most recent content by Sector, Theme or Demographic

  • Added Value Content

This is good if you want to find out about those ‘added extras’ which are available in Mintel, like Webinars, Analyst Insight and Quarterly Updates

  • Creating Email Alerts and Saved Searches

Shows you how to set up a profile so you can keep up to date with the latest content in your areas of interest

  • Creating Report Graphs

Who doesn’t love a graph? This video shows you how to create one from a table of figures

  • Finding What’s Available in Your Subscription

Shows you how to check which Mintel content is available to you (Swansea University subscribes to the following industry categories: e-commerce, food, leisure, technology and drink)

  • Running a Search

Does what it says on the tin! Tips for searching Mintel content

  • Structure of a Report

Highlights the key features of the Mintel reports so you know where to find the information you need

The videos are particularly useful if you’re using Mintel Oxygen, which is great for finding independent market research reports containing analysis, commentary and data. At Swansea University, we also have access to Mintel Market Sizes, where you’ll find data on industries and countries, including market size, market share and forecast data for thousands of consumer goods categories worldwide.

Although Mintel provides our specialist market research database, you may also find relevant reports on two of our other key databases, EBSCO Business Source Premier and ProQuest Business Collection. For help finding market research reports via these sources, check our guide on Blackboard under the heading ‘Can’t find the market research you need on Mintel?’.

All four databases are available off-campus as well as on-campus, so you’ll always have a wealth of marketing information available at your fingertips!

Country information: comparing web resources (so you don’t have to!)

If you need information, facts and figures on a specific country there are plenty of sources out on the web, some more reliable than others. We also have subscription resources which require a login but have reports not available for free on the web.

Taking the example of Sudan, we have compared what you get. Is it worth a few extra steps to access the subscription content? (Spoiler alert: YES! Read on and find out why…)

As a specific comparison figure, we have extracted the population figures from all resources where given. Interesting to see how widely this varies!

Resources from the open web

  • The American CIA World Factbook has long been considered a reliable source of country information – its entry on Sudan contains facts and analysis under headings Geography, People and Society, Government, Economy, Energy, Communications, Transportation, Military and Transnational Issues. Population 35,482,233 (July 2014 est.)
  • The World Health Organization has a country profile for Sudan which includes more health-focussed information and risks. It estimates the 2012 population at 37,195,000.
  • The World Bank also has a home page for Sudan which has a financial slant and links to their work with Sudan. They cite a 2012 population estimate at 37.20 million.
  • The major accountancy firm KPMG also have online reports including this one on Sudan. It has a lot of detail and dates from 2012. Population given as 34,206,710 (July 2012 est.).
  • Wikipedia: the profile of Sudan is extensive and can be a valuable starting point. However, you should not use Wikipedia as an academic source or reference – follow its footnotes to find more credible sources or verify the information elsewhere. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page (try it yourself if you have knowledge of a particular topic!). Population is given as 30, 894, 000 citing the 2008 census and acknowledging that this has been disputed as a precise estimate.
  • The BBC has its own Sudan country profile with an overview, facts, media, leaders and a historical timeline. It is useful as it links to its own recent news stories on a country. Population is given at 45.7 million (UN estimate 2012) which seems very large in comparison with all other sources and may be unreliable in this instance – always worth checking more than one source!

Subscription Resources

In comparison with these, you can find extensive country profiles in our EBSCO Business Source Complete database. To find a country report in EBSCO, the following search is recommended:

  • Enter the country name as a search time and change “Select a field (optional)” to “TI Title”
  • Limit the search by date to most recent years
  • Limit the search by “Source Type” to “Country Reports”
  • Change the sort order of results to “Date Newest”

Screenshot of EBSCO BSC showing search filters applied


Is it worth the extra effort to search EBSCO? The Political Risk Yearbook report for Sudan is 39 pages long and dates from November 2013. As well as the usual facts and figures (population given for 2012: 37.20 million) it has sections on “Comment & Analysis”, 3 “Forecast Scenarios” based on political changes that could occur, 5 pages of detail on “climate for investment & trade”. So this is a much more extensive, current and researched resource than those available freely on the web – the reason why these reports are only available on subscription via the PRS Group.

Proquest Business Collection also has a series of Country reports, available only on subscription: find these by clicking on “Browse” then expand the “Country Reports” section:

Screenshot of Proquest showing Browse link to Country Reports


The individual collections listed here are all worth exploring for a specific country but some countries are not covered in all collections. In the case of Sudan:

  • Oxford Economics Country Economic Forecast has one from Oct 2013, 6 months ago. This is a 4 page economic forecast that looks ahead to 2016 with analysis and figures. (There is no Oxford Economics By Country Industry Forecast for Sudan – only selected countries are covered for this category).
  • The EIU reports do not include Sudan.
  • Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service has many short items on Sudan indexed by industry and topic but these are not that current (2012 is the most recent) and are often not specifically on Sudan.
  • Oxford Analytica Country Profiles has one that is 2 months old (Jan 2014). It gives a population of 25,946,220 (July 2012).


EBSCO’s Country Reports are by far the most comprehensive option for authoritative country information with additional forecast information from Proquest also proving useful. It is worth noting that not all the subscription sources cover all countries – Mintel Global Market Navigator is another resource we have for country economic data but does not include Sudan.

The web resources listed are useful but basic – the CIA World Factbook is possibly the most reliable & recognized one to cite for an assignment.


Need a reliable, up-to-date industry profile?

These can be found on EBSCO Business Source Complete.

Try a search on Forecasting AND “plumbing industry” OR “construction industry” as follows:  put “Forecasting” in one box and group “plumbing industry” OR “construction industry” in a separate box.  You could add multiple OR options if you wish. The quotes around the words will instruct to search for that exact phrase.

Screenshot showing "Forecasting" in one search box and the OR terms in a separate box

You can then use the following filters to narrow down results:

  • Date
  • Full Text available
  • Set “Source Type” to Industry Profiles

Screenshot of EBSCO filter options showing "Source Type"

If you still have too many results, add in a country e.g. “Great Britain”.

You can sort the results by “Date Newest” to find the most recent information.

MarketLine industry profiles are particularly detailed, reliable and highly reputable industry overviews.

Tip: to check you are using the best search terms, try using the “Thesaurus” e.g. if you search there for “Car industry” it will tell you the better term to use is “Automobile Industry”. You can then click on that term to expand it where you may find a better, more specific term to add to your search:

Screenshot showing "Automobile Industry - Forecasting" added to search using the thesaurus

If you can’t find what you need let us know ( and we will do our best to help!


Finding quality company profiles and reports

If you are searching for information on specific large companies our subscription resources include two valuable sources of company profiles. Most information on the web comes from company websites – which can be biased – these reports have been produced by professional analysts and can be relied on as authoritative summaries. Key report sources are MarketLine and Hoovers which charge for access to this company information via the open web. Click on the headings below to access the databases:

EBSCO Business Source Complete

Most reports are by MarketLine – they include sections on the history of the company, overview, SWOT analysis, revenue analysis, key personnel etc.

  • Ignore the “Company Information” link and click on “More” -> “Company Profiles”
  • Search by name and use “Match any words” to maximize results.

Screenshot from EBSCO showing "More" / "Company Profiles" option


Reports include a history of the company, overview, key personnel, SWOT analysis, key competitors, revenue analysis and more.

Proquest Business Collection

Click on “Browse” within the database

Proquest screenshot showing Browse

Hoovers Company Reports (the better option for UK companies) give access to a company record which includes an overview, history, key people, competitors, financials and more. Once you have located the company, you need to click on “Link to full text” (on the right) to see the full report:

Showing where to click full text link

(Proquest Annual Reports collection can be searched by company name, date or industry. It covers mostly US companies. More recent reports may be found on the web.)

Short cuts to finding quality journal articles

Our two biggest business databases (EBSCO Business Source Complete and Proquest Business Collection) are excellent places to look for journal articles for an assignment. Given that many assignment briefs specifically ask for students to find “academic journals”, “quality journal articles” or “academic literature” it is particularly useful that both our databases allow you to filter results to academic journals. However, they both do this slightly differently…

EBSCO Business Source Complete has the option both before and after searching to limit your results to “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals”. You can also use their “Source Type” filter to select “Academic Journals”:

Screenshot of EBSCO search result filters showing "Academic Journals" option


EBSCO defines these as “Peer-reviewed journals are publications that include only those articles that have been reviewed and/or qualified by a selected panel of acknowledged experts in the field of study covered by the journal.” They also have further information on how they classify journals in their knowledge base which states that “Academic Journals” are ” journals that publish articles which carry footnotes and bibliographies, and whose intended audience is comprised of some kind of research community”.

Proquest Business Collection has two separate options:

Screenshot from Proquest showing the "peer reviewed" and "scholarly journals" options

“Peer reviewed” = defined as “a publication in which articles go through an official editorial process that involves review and approval by the author’s peers (people who are experts in the same subject area). Most (but not all) scholarly publications are peer reviewed. Some trade publications are peer reviewed. ProQuest uses Ulrichsweb as the primary reference source to categorize peer reviewed publications.”

“Scholarly Journals” = defined as “a scholarly journal is a publication that is authored by academics for a target audience that is mainly academic. The scholarly journal printed format isn’t usually a glossy magazine, and it is published by a recognized society with academic goals and missions. The ProQuest criteria states the publication must be academic in focus with the intent to report on or support research needs as well as advance one’s knowledge on a topic or theory. The publication will be targeted for professional or academic researchers and have in-depth analysis typically focusing on one discipline or academic field. The publication will likely be peer reviewed or refereed by external reviewers. The publisher should be a professional association or an academic press.”

The distinctions being made in the databases reflect the fact that:

  • Peer review is a quality assurance process which may be used by some non-academic journals too (e.g. trade publications)
  • “Academic” and/or “Scholarly” are used to designate that the journal is intended for an academic audience (or for researchers) and that articles will have footnotes and references in academic style.
  • Not all “academic” journals will be peer-reviewed – and for some “peer-reviewed” journals not ALL their content may be peer-reviewed (e.g. editorials, book reviews).

Whilst Google Scholar may state that it indexes “scholarly information” (precise definition not supplied), it is quick and easy to use our two databases with these filter options applied to make sure you are focussing on top quality material for assignments.