What is SPORTDiscus?

SPORTDiscus is an article database we access through a company called Ebsco. Its subjects include biomechanics, exercise physiology, health education, kinesiology, nutrition, occupational health and therapy, physical education, physical therapy, and sports medicine. SPORTDiscus includes more than two million records for resources on fitness, health, and sport studies, so it is a good place to start your exercise science research!

We'll start our tutorial in SPORTDiscus, but normally you can access SPORTDiscus from the CSB/SJU Libraries homepage by going to Databases A-Z and clicking on SPORTDiscus.

A couple of notes before we get started:

  • Be sure to answer each of the questions in the tutorial. At the end of the tutorial you can get a Certificate documenting which questions you got correct. You will need to email this Certificate to librarian Kelly Kraemer ([email protected]).
  • If you are off-campus, you will be prompted to enter your CSB/SJU ID and password before you can use our databases.

Turning Your Topic into Search Terms

1 of 4Your Assignment: You have to write a research paper using peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. You have chosen the topic "What kind of awareness or knowledge do high school athletes have about concussions?"

Let's try a search in SPORTDiscus.

1. Type What kind of awareness or knowledge do high school athletes have about concussions? into the top search box on the page.

2. Click the Search button.

Turning Your Topic into Search Terms

2 of 4Uh-oh! You'll get the following message:

No results were found.

Why? SPORTDiscus and other library databases do not work like Google, and you won’t get many results if you put your entire research question or a long string of search terms into one search box. Use just a couple of carefully selected search terms instead!

Which of the following are the best search terms for your topic?

Turning Your Topic into Search Terms

3 of 4Now let's try a search in SPORTDiscus using these terms.

1. Type concussions awareness high school into the top search box on the page.

2. Click the Search button.

How many results did your search return?

Turning Your Topic into Search Terms

4 of 4

That really isn’t very many results! After all, you’re researching a popular, important topic and SPORTDiscus has millions of articles! How can we improve our search to get more (and better) results? You’ll need to separate out your main terms and put them in different search boxes.

Using Different Search Boxes (The Connector AND)

We can greatly improve our search by using the word AND between our search terms or phrases.

1. Change your search so that concussions (your first concept) is in the top search box, awareness (your second concept) is in the second search box, and high school (your third concept) is in the third search box. Note that the default connector term for search boxes is AND.

image of "AND" icon

2. Click the Search button.

How many results did your search return?

Choosing Good Search Terms

Choosing the best search terms and combining them effectively will take some trial and error. You'll get better at choosing search terms with time and practice, and as you learn more about your research topic. Here are some tips for choosing good search terms:

1. Brainstorm other terms related to your research topic. Look at overviews of your topic on Wikipedia or in some of the articles you’ve already found to identify additional terms.

2. Look at the Subjects listed for your articles in SPORTDiscus. These are the official “tags” the database uses to describe what articles are about.

image of the Subjects listings for an article

3. Contact Kelly or another CSB/SJU librarian for suggestions - we're always happy to help!

Limiting Your Results to Peer-Reviewed Articles

Once you have chosen some good search terms, you can focus on other ways to refine your results.

We mentioned earlier that you need scholarly, peer-reviewed articles for your assignment, but SPORTDiscus includes both peer-reviewed materials and more popular materials that didn't go through the peer review process.

You can limit your results to only peer-reviewed publications by going to the Limit To heading in the left-hand column and clicking on the Peer Reviewed checkbox.

Peer Reviewed Check Box

Use a search for concussions AND awareness. How many search results are there? Now click on the Peer Reviewed checkbox.

How many results do you have now?

Limiting Your Results to Recent Materials

For some topics, it’s going to be important to use the most current, up-to-date sources. Look at the Publication Date range for your search results (in the left-hand column under the Limit To heading) – some of the articles in your results list were published in 2004.

Change the date range to only include articles from 2014 to the present.

Date Range Limiter

How many results do you have now?

Evaluating Your Search Results

1 of 2Some of your search results will be a better fit for your particular topic than others.

1. Look over the article titles in your Search Results and locate the article Concussion Management, Education, and Return-to-Play Policies in High Schools: A Survey of Athletic Directors, Athletic Trainers, and Coaches (approximately #5 on the list).

2. Click on the article’s title to get further information about the article. Read the article summary, known as the Abstract.

Based on the abstract, does this article look like it could be useful for your assignment? Remember, your topic is “What kind of awareness or knowledge do high school athletes have about concussions?”

Evaluating Your Search Results

2 of 21. Go back to your Result List and locate the article The War Against Concussions (approximately #8 on the list).

2. Read the article’s Abstract.

Based on the abstract, does this article look like it could be useful for your assignment? Remember, your topic is "What kind of awareness or knowledge do high school athletes have about concussions?"

Okay, How Do I Get My Article?

Let's go over three possible options for getting a full-text copy of an article:

  • Accessing it through a full text icon
  • Using the Find It button to locate a full-text copy in another CSB/SJU Libraries database
  • Using the Find It button to request a full-text copy  from another library using Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Getting the Article (Full Text Icons)

In some cases it will be really easy to locate a full-text copy of an article – you’ll see one of these icons that will take you directly to the full text:

image of "PDF Full Text" icon

This is a scanned version of the article.


Image of "HTML Full Text" icon

This is a simple text version of the article. It may not include the formatting, page numbers, and images that were in the original published article.

Getting the Article (Find It)

If you don't see either the PDF or HTML full text icon, you will see a Find It button instead:
Image of the "Find It" button

This button appears when SPORTDiscus does not have the full text for an article. Clicking on the Find It button will tell you one of two things:

1. If we have a copy of the full text in a different CSB/SJU Libraries' database (just not in SPORTDiscus, the database we're currently using), the Find It button will provide links to the database(s) that have the full text. Look for this icon:
Image of "View Full Text" icon

2. If we DON'T have access to a full-text copy, you will need to request the article from another library through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Using Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

To place an ILL request, click on the Request item through Interlibrary Loan button:

ILL Request

If you actually wanted to place this request, you would fill out the InterLibrary Loan Request Form and then Submit your request (you don't need to do that for this tutorial, though!). Your Barcode is the 14-digit number on the back of your student ID. 

ILL Request Form

You'll get an email alert when your article is available. Sometimes you can access the article online by following steps in the email, but sometimes you'll need to come to the library to pick up a printed copy.

Next Steps

Now that you understand the basics of searching for articles in SPORTDiscus, you should try many variations on your first search. This might include:

1. Trying different search terms

2. Exploring other library databases

3. Tracking down relevant sources that are cited in articles you've already found (review their bibliographies!)

Image of a bibliography from a scholarly journal article

Still Have Questions?

Remember: SPORTDiscus is only one database, and the CSB/SJU Libraries give you access to dozens more, each with its own collection of articles. To find out which databases are the best fit for your topic, go to our Research Guides. Which department(s) on campus would research your topic? Click on a guide for a list of Recommended Databases in that discipline.
Research Guides

If you have further questions or would like assistance finding sources, please email CSB/SJU librarian Kelly Kraemer ([email protected]) to set up a research appointment. She is happy to help!
Kelly Kraemer

Homework Reminder

Homework Reminder:

  • On the next page, please remember to email your Certificate to Kelly at [email protected]. She needs your Certificate before you can schedule an appointment with her.
  • Email Kelly to schedule an individual research appointment. You can also schedule an appointment with her on the library website.


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