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Business Source Complete: Refining your search

Re-sorting and refining your search results

Re-sorting your search results: these should appear in order of those that are 'most relevant; but you can change this to appear order by date (starting with the most recently added). To do this, click the 'relevance' option just above your results and select 'date newest'. 

Retrieving only a few results? Return to the search boxes at the top of the screen. Consider whether there are any further alternative keywords that could be added. Also consider whether any of the concepts that you originally identified are of only marginal relevance to your research - if so remove the associated set(s) of keywords. Check your new search results to see whether this approach is more effective.

Retrieving too many irrelevant results? Return to the search boxes at the top of the screen. Consider whether any individual keywords are of only marginal relevance - if so, remove these and try another search. Also consider whether a further concept needs to appear in each search result. If so, add another search box and enter the concept's associated keyword(s). The database's filter options can also help you refine your results (read the next section).

What are Business Source Complete's filters?

Business Source Complete: part of refine options column.Options for refining your results appear to the left of your results. These enable you to refine your results by various criteria including source type (academic journal, report, book and others), subject thesarus term, subject, company and geography.

You might want to select the peer-reviewed option if you forgot to do previously in your initial search.

Be cautious: filtered searches might not identify every record related to a specific subject/topic area. That said, if you're retrieving an unmanageable number of irrelevant results, the use of these filters can be helpful (at least in initial searches).

Subject Filters

  • Scroll down the screen to find 2 types of subject filter (located to the left of your search results). The subject thesaurus filter displays terms that have been added by individuals working for the database who read the articles being indexed and then add thesaurus terms that best reflect their content. The other subject filter applies a broader set of terms.
  • The filters are helpful you if you need to refine the scope of your dissertation/thesis research by alerting you to aspects of the topic that you might not have considered or helping you identify any gaps in previous research.


Combining sets of search results

Business Source Complete: Search History linkYou can run separate searches, each on a different theme, and then combine the sets of results. 

To do this, go the search history section which appears just below the search boxes. Here you will find a list of each of your searches (from your current search session). Select/tick the box next to each search that needs to be combined. Then select one of the following options:


  • AND: narrows down your search results so that each individual result relates to all the concepts/sets that you're combining (rather than just one concept). 
  • OR: broadens your search results by listing every single result that appears in either one or more of the original sets that you're combining.

Business Source Complete: combining sets of search results