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How to search: EbscoHost Databases

This guide will show you how to search in the different Unisa Library resources to find relevant information for your research needs

Request a Literature Search

Need sources for your literature review? Struggling to find sources for your assignment, research proposal or thesis?

The Library can assist with a literature search, which is a systematic and comprehensive search for published, academic material on your specific subject/topic. How do you request one? Simply go to Request a literature search .

If you are experiencing problems accessing the form, please use this link

EbscoHost Database

The EbscoHost database collection is a multidisciplinary database with academic, peer-reviewed articles, company profiles, images and e-books.

EsbcoHost Advanced Searchin Tips

To use Advanced Search with Single Find Field:

  1. Click the Advanced Search link below the Find field.
  2. On the Advanced Search Screen, enter your search terms in the Find field.


Proximity Searches

You can use a proximity search to search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words (or fewer) of each other in the databases. Proximity searching is used with a Keyword or Boolean search.

The proximity operators are composed of a letter (N or W) and a number (to specify the number of words). The proximity operator is placed between the words that are to be searched, as follows:

Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within five wordsof one another regardless of the order in which they appear.

For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.

Within Operator (W) - In the following example, W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.

For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

In addition, multiple terms can be used on either side of the operator. See the following examples:

    • (baseball or football or basketball) N5 (teams or players)
  • oil W3 (disaster OR clean-up OR contamination)


Wildcard and Truncation Symbols

Use the wildcard and truncation symbols to create searches where there are unknown characters, multiple spellings or various endings. Neither the wildcard nor the truncation symbol can be used as the first character in a search term.



The wildcard is represented by a question mark ? or a pound sign #.

To use the ? wildcard, enter your search terms and replace each unknown character with a ?. EBSCOhost finds all citations of that word with the ? replaced by a letter. 

For example, type ne?t to find all citations containing neat, nest or next. EBSCOhost does not find net because the wildcard replaces a single character.  

Note: When searching for a title that ends in a question mark, the symbol should be removed from the search in order to ensure results will be returned.

To use the # wildcard, enter your search terms, adding the # in places where an alternate spelling may contain an extra character. EBSCOhost finds all citations of the word that appear with or without the extra character.

For example, type colo#r to find all citations containing color or colour.

Note: Searching the U.S. spelling of words will also include some spelling variations (i.e. colour or odour) but not all spelling variations.

When using the pound/hash (#) wildcard, plurals and possessives of that term are not searched. For example, when running a search for the term colo#r, the terms "colors" and "colours" will not be searched (which they are by default when using the singular "color" or "colour" without a wildcard operator).



Truncation is represented by an asterisk (*). To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an *. EBSCOhost finds all forms of that word.

For example, type comput* to find the words computer or computing.

Note: The Truncation symbol (*) may also be used between words to match any word.

For example, a midsummer * dream will return results that contain the exact phrase, a midsummer night’s dream.

Note: Wildcards and Truncation can not be combined for a term in a search. For example, a search for p#ediatric* would be the same as a search for P*.

Single vs. Plural Searching

In order to provide the most comprehensive search results, when EBSCOhost conducts a search, it may return results that include both the single and plural versions of your search terms.

Searching for Singular, Plural, and Possessive Words

When a singular word is searched, the plural and possessive forms of that word will also be searched. However, if the word is enclosed in quotation marks, plural and possessive forms will not be searched.

For example, a search for the phrase alley cat without quotation marks could also search for all of the following:
alley cat, alley cat’s, alley cats, alley's cat, alley’s cat’s, alley’s cats, alleys cat, alleys cat's, alleys cats

However, when a plural is searched, the search engine will automatically search for the singular version of the term. If the plural is spelled differently, (e.g. child, children), a search is not expanded unless the "Apply additional terms to query" expander is checked. EBSCOhost may also return results with regional spellings (e.g., color, colour), acronyms (e.g., TV, T.V.) as well as a limited number of synonyms.

NAICS in SIC Code Order

EBSCO has aligned periodical and journal content to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Currently, whenever possible, periodical and journal content has been assigned to one or more 6-digit NAICS codes. At this time EBSCOhost supports searching only by 6-digit NAICS codes. This code is visible in the citation alongside the field descriptor NAICS/Description. The NAICS code is followed by a brief descriptor.


  • Not every NAICS code will be associated to an article. The very nature of periodical and journal content does not always have a match to certain government-identified industry areas.

  • EBSCO used the information found at the U.S. Census Bureau's NAICS web page to assist in creating this page.

Click here to view this same list ordered by NAICS code.

Company Profiles

To search for company information:

1. Click the Company Profiles link at the top of the screen. The Company Profiles List Screen appears with the beginning of the list displayed. You can use the Next | Previous and A - Z links to page through the Company Profiles List.

2. Enter your search terms in the Browse field. You can enter all or part of a company name. (For example, you could enter GE, or General, or Gen.)

    • Select a search type. Click one:

      • Alphabetical - Finds companies beginning with the letters you entered. Results are displayed in alphabetical order.
      • Match Any Words - Finds companies with one or more of your terms in the company name. Results are displayed in order of relevance to your search terms.

3. Click Browse to view a Result List of companies that match your search terms. Use the Next | Previous links to page through the list of results. To print, e-mail or save several search results, open the detail view for each item and add to the folder.

Adapted from: EbscoHost Help and Searching Tips