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 buslib@swansea.ac.uk.

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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.