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EBSCOhost databases

Guide to using EBSCOhost databases

Advanced Search: thesaurus searching for a topic

In some of the EBSCOhost databases, you will see a Thesaurus option on the horizontal black bar at the top of the screen. Searching for the thesaurus term for a topic will retrieve papers on that topic even if different authors have used slightly different terminology to describe the topic in their papers.

To use the thesaurus (this example uses the MLA Thesaurus):

  • Select (MLA) ThesaurusScreenshot of the EBSCOhost thesaurus search box.
  • Type a term, for example 'folk belief systems' into the thesaurus search box.
  • Select Browse.

You will see an alphabetical index of thesaurus terms, and synonyms for thesaurus terms, that are used in the database. You can click on the blue thesaurus term links to see related terms. 

The thesaurus terms are arranged in a tree structure. Select a thesaurus term to see any:

  • Broader Terms. In this example, the broader terms are 'beliefs' and 'folklore'.
  • Narrower Terms. The narrower terms are 'folk medicine', 'folk rituals', 'magic' and 'religion'.
  • Related Terms. The related terms are 'amulet', 'fetish', 'geopiety', 'taboos' and 'totemism'.
  • Used For terms. These are any synonyms or alternative terms for the thesaurus term. In this example, the 'used for' term is 'fbeli'. 

Screenshot of the EBSCOhost thesaurus tree structure.

Use the checkboxes to the left of the thesaurus terms to select any that you would like to include in your search.

  • Explode: If you select a thesaurus term that has narrower terms, you can also select the Explode checkbox to the right of it. This will automatically include all the narrower terms in your search. For example, if you select the thesaurus term 'folk belief systems' and also select the Explode checkbox to the right of it, you will be searching for any of the following thesaurus terms: 'folk belief systems', 'folk medicine', 'folk rituals', 'magic', 'religion'.

Once you have selected any relevant thesaurus terms and Explode options, click on Add (just above the list of thesaurus terms) to add the selected terms to the search box. The default is to link any terms you have selected with the search operator OR, but you can use the drop-down menu to change the operator to AND, or NOT, if you wish. 

Your selected terms will be added to the search box near the top of the screen. Click on Search. Your search terms and number of search results will appear as a line in the Search History / Alerts section beneath the search boxes on the Advanced Search screen.

Browsing subject terms in EBSCOhost: tutorial

This video introduces the EBSCOhost thesaurus (2 mins 24 secs).