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SPORTDiscus: Refining your search

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:

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 SPORTDiscus's filters?

SPORTDiscus: refine column

  • A column of filter options is displayed  to the left of your search 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.
  • 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

  • SPORTDiscus provides two types of subject filter. The subject thesaurus filter displays terms that have been added by individuals working for the database who read the articles being indexed and then adds thesaurus terms that best reflect their content. The other subject filter applies a broader set of search terms.
  • The filters are helpful 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


You 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) and each search is given a corresponding #number.

In the 'combine queries' box, enter the relevant #numbers that you wish to combine. Then enter one of the following in between the #numbers: AND, OR, NOT (for example, you might enter #1 AND #2). Finally, click the magnifying glass to retrieve the new set of results.

  • AND: enter this if you want to narrow your final search results to those that appear in each set of results that you're combining. I
  • OR: enter this if you want to retrieve one long list of all your search results from across all of the sets of results (regardless of whether they appear within one set or multiple sets).  
  • NOT: enter this if you want to exclude results that include one or more irrelevant keyword. To do this, run a search on your topic  and then run a second search for just the keyword(s) that you want excluded.  Then, combine the two sets of searches using NOT (e.g. #1 NOT #2).

    Be cautious: the use of NOT can prove too limiting. A SPORTDiscus record that includes an irrelevant keyword may also include a relevant keyword, so you wouldn't want to exclude it by using the NOT option. The most effective ways of avoiding unwanted results may be to manually evaluate results on an individual basis, to enter keywords that have a more precise meaning, or to use the filters that appear to the left  of your search results.