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SPORTDiscus: Keyword searching

Use this guide to help you search SPORTDiscus more effectively and to find out how to manage your search results. After reading this introductory page, click each heading in the following row of tabs:

Selecting keywords (search terms)

When you enter keywords (search terms) in SPORTDiscus, the database searches for your keywords across the titles and abstracts (summaries) of articles and other documents. To find a good range of relevant literature on your topic, it's important to think carefully about your keywords before your searchTo help you do this, please follow these steps:

  1. Identify the words/keywords in your assignment title that are most relevant to your topic i.e. identify those words that distinguish the title from any other title. Let's use the following assignment title / research question as an example: “To what extent is motivation a key component to effective participation in long distance running". Generally, it's best to ignore generic words such as "impact". Using our example, you might identify the following keywords: motivation, long distance running.
  2. Think of each keyword as a separate concept (or sub-theme) within the overall theme of your topic. Then, for each concept, identify any alternative words that have the same/similar meaning. For inspiration, you could consider the types of terms used in lectures and textbooks. Also, consider words that have opposite meanings (e.g. inequality as opposed to equality). Different authors often use different words to describe the same concept and if your keywords don't reflect this range of terminology, you may miss important search results. Here's a list of keywords, organised by concept, for the above search example (it's not an exhaustive list):
Concept 1 long distance running marathon  endurance running  
Concept 2 motivation self-efficacy   self-determination demotivation

Entering keywords

  • Entering phrases: it's generally a good idea to enter these in "speech marks" (e.g. "long distance running") so that SPORTDiscus only searches for the exact phrase. Otherwise, SPORTDiscus searches for all the individual words in a phrase which can produce too many irrelevant search results.  
  • Entering search terms using OR: If you have identified multiple alternative keywords for the same concept, enter the word or in between each one e.g. "long distance running" or marathon or "endurance running".. Otherwise, SPORTDiscus limits your search results to those that only feature ALL of the alternative keywords you enter.
  • Using AND: Note the screenshots below. if your topic contains multiple concepts (e.g. long distance running and motivation), enter your set of keywords for each individual concept in a separate search box. To display an additional search box, click the + (plus) button just below the search boxes. The default setting in between each search box should be AND - don't change this if you want each of your search results to cover all of the concepts that you've identified. Once you have entered all of your search terms, click Search.

    SPORTDiscus: keyword search example1

    SPORTDiscus: keyword search example: 2
  • Peer-reviewed option: You can select the peer-reviewed option further down the screen on the right-hand side - this limits your results to those from peer-reviewed journals (and other publications). These are journals in which an article, submitted by an author, is appraised by other academic researchers and is only permitted for publication if it meets various quality standards.
  • Limit/expand options: Below the search boxes, there are various options for limiting or expanding your search.  For example, you can limit by date but be cautious - some older documents might still be relevant and cited in more up-to-date literanture.  Other limit options include publication type (academic journal, conference paper, Government document, Review and others). and document type (article, book chapter, case study, health report and others). 

    There's an 'also search within the full-text of articles' option but be careful if using this. 
    While it might prove useful if you retrieve few useful results, it may retrieve an unmanageable number of irrelevant results! 
  • To return to these options after a search, click the Advanced Search link just below your search boxes. 

Searching for different endings / spellings of the same word

  • Plural versions: SPORTDiscus automatically searches for both the singular and plural versions of a word in singular form, so if you enter footballer it will also search for footballlers
  • Truncation: sometimes you can increase the number of your results by entering an asterisk at the end of the stem of a word e.g. if you just enter motivat*, SPORTDiscus searches for these:



Another example: Manag* will search for manage, manages, managed, managing, manager, managers, managerial, management.

  • US spellings: SPORTDiscus automatically searches for both the UK and US variant spellings of many words e.g. if you enter behaviour, it will also search for behavior.  Other common US/UK variants include the letter Z rather than S.  

Proximity Searching

  • Proximity searches enable you to limit your search to titles and abstracts in which two or more keywords appear in close proximity. This can be useful if there several similar versions of the same phrase exist e.g.
    "strength and power training", "power and strength training", "training for power and strength"...

  • To do a proximity search, enter the capital letter N followed by the maximum number of words you want appearing between your keywords .eg. N2, N5, N10 etc. For example, if you might want the keywords "training" and "strength" to appear in close proximity within the space of 5 or fewer words, enter: 
    training N5 strength.

  • If you have a set of multiple alternative keywords that need to appear in close proximity to another keyword/set, enter the multiple keywords within a set of brackets as follows: 
    training N5 (strength or power)