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How is the Business Thesaurus Designed?

The EBSCO Information Services scholarly business databases provide bibliographic and full-text content covering all disciplines of business. The Business Thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary of terms that assists in the effective searching of this business content. There are close to 19,000 valid terms in the Business Thesaurus. Additionally, there are over 23,000 synonyms and non-preferred terms that lead to these preferred terms. General keyword searches interact with the Business Thesaurus as a result of the back-end processing that associates business thesaurus terms to each record. For the more advanced user, the Business Thesaurus is a feature that can be browsed alphabetically or searched by relevancy ranking.

The Business Thesaurus is a subject specific thesaurus and is a sub-set of the EBSCO Information Service’s Comprehensive Subject Index (CSI), which is a controlled vocabulary of subject headings used across EBSCO’s databases. Originally based on the Library of Congress system of subject headings, the CSI has been revised and expanded to provide a consistent, interrelated vocabulary to describe a wide range of topics.

To create the Business Thesaurus, taxonomists selected terms covering the entire scope of activity of providing goods and services, including financial, commercial and industrial aspects. In more detail, the Business Thesaurus covers concepts in the following categories:

  • Business operations (Management, Industries, Logistics, Organization & Office Administration, Manufacturing)
  • Consumption Market (Marketing, Sales, Business-to-Business)
  • Production Resource Market (Capital, Labor, Human Resources, Technology)
  • Business Economics (Accounting, Finance, Growth/Productivity, Business Research, Budgeting, Investing)
  • Regulation (Legal, Safety/Health, Government, Social Responsibility)

Business Thesaurus terms are drawn from a variety of sources. Taxonomists have expanded on the Library of Congress list of subject headings by reviewing current terminology from other field-specific glossaries and encyclopedias as well as from news outlets and business-related publications. A list of major sources used in reviewing the thesaurus terms is included below. Additionally, many headings have been converted to natural-language forms. For example, inverted headings, such as “Advertising, Classified” were un-inverted, as in “Classified advertising.” Similarly, subdivided headings such as “Crises -- Management” have been converted to phrases like “Crisis management.” In most cases, the subdivided or inverted term has been retained as a non-preferred term, or cross reference, leading to the preferred term.

A detailed view of each term in the Business Thesaurus provides a definition of the term (Scope Note) as used by EBSCO indexers as well as a list displaying all broader, narrower, and related terms and synonyms or “used for” terms. A user can search on a term or terms to retrieve articles that have been indexed using the term(s). The terms and their relationships aid the abstractor and user in finding relevant content in the databases.

Thesaural Relationships and Conventions Used

There are three types of relationships in the Business Thesaurus:

The equivalence relationship leads the searcher to one or more terms that are to be used instead of the one from which the cross-reference is made. It directs the user to “use” a preferred heading(s). It is shown as a “Used For” under the preferred heading and “Use” under the non-preferred heading. Use and Used for relationships originate from Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) source materials and from EBSCO taxonomists. Non-preferred terms may be spelling variants, synonyms, or commonly used jargon referring to a preferred term that is used to index the content.

The associative relationship suggests other headings that are related or associated with the cross-reference. These are shown as “Related Terms.” Related terms are generally on parallel levels in and between hierarchies, although some relationships exist between lower branch entries and top level terms to link concepts from disparate hierarchies where the association might otherwise be missed.

The hierarchical relationship leads from one term to another that is either broader or narrower in scope. It is shown as a “Broader Term” or “Narrower Term.” The majority of broader and narrower terms are of the generic variety. Term A “is a kind of” Term B, where Term A is narrower than Term B. Where terms refer to intangible concepts, the hierarchy refers to the breadth of the ideas involved. Where several similar concepts have been grouped into one heading for the convenience of researchers and indexers, hierarchical relationships may be derived from these synonyms. For example, “Funds” is a Use reference under “Finance.” Therefore, “Campaign funds” appears as a Narrower Term to “Finance.” Polyhierarchy has been used in the Business Thesaurus. A term may have multiple Broader Term relationships and thus will appear in several conceptual trees. This is particularly useful where the term represents a specific combination of two or more topics. For example, “Administered prices” is narrower to “Prices,” “Price regulation,” and “Pricing.”

The Business Thesaurus was constructed using the Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri (Bethesda, MD: National Information Standards Organization, ANSI/NISO Z39.19-1993, 30 August 1993.) The MultiTes Thesaurus Construction software, version 10.10 was used to compile the thesaurus, as well as to create display and machine versions.

Resources Used

Accounting Terminology Guide. New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) General Committee on Public Relations. 

Blackwell Publishing Titles

Abdel-Khalik, A. Rashad, editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Accounting. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 1999.

Baum, Joel A.C., editor. The Blackwell Companion to Organizations. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Channon, Derek F., editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Strategic Management. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

Davis, Gordon B., editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Management Information Systems. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Frederick, Robert E., editor. A Companion to Business Ethics. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Gannon, Martin J., and Newman, Karen L., editors. The Blackwell Handbook of Cross-Cultural Management. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001.

Hit, Michael A., Freeman, R. Edward, and Harrison, Jeffrey S., editors. The Blackwell Handbook of Strategic Management. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001.

Lewis, Barbara R., and Dale Littler, editors. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Marketing. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

Locke, Edwin A., editor. The Blackwell Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

McAuliffe, Robert, editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Managerial Economics. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Nicholson, Nigel, editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Organizational Behavior. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1998.

O'Connell, John J., editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of International Management. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Peters, Lawrence, Charles R. Greer, and Stuart A. Youngblood, editors. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Human Resource Management. Oxford UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999.

Sexton, Donald, and Landstrom, Hans, editors. The Blackwell Handbook of Entrepreneurship. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000.

Slack, Nigel, editor. Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Operations Management. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997.

Business Source Premier. EBSCO Publishing, 2012.

Digital Economist.

EconLit Subject Descriptors. American Economic Association.  

FASB pronouncements. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). 

Glossary of Economic Terms. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. 

Glossary. Insure.com: the Insurance Guide. 

Glossary of insurance terms. Insurance Information Institute. 

Hussey, R., editor. Dictionary of Accounting. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

InvestorWords.com - Investing Glossary. 

Journal of Economic literature (JEL) Classification System. American Economic Association. 

Library of Congress Online Catalog, Subject Browse. Library of Congress. 

Medical Subject Headings, MeSH. National Library of Medicine. 

Milstead, Jessica L., editor. ASIS Thesaurus of Information Science and Librarianship. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, 1994.

Moss, Rita W., editor. Strauss’s Handbook of business information. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 2004.

Nolo: Law for all. 

OECD Macrothesaurus - HTML Version. Paris: OECD, 1991 

Pallister, John and Alan Isaacs, editors. Dictionary of Business. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Root Thesaurus, third edition. Milton Keyes, UK: British Standards Institution, 1988.

Scott, David L. Wall Street Words: An Essential A to Z Guide for Today's Investor. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

SearchERIC. ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. 

UNESCO Thesaurus: a structured list of descriptors for indexing and retrieving literature in the fields of education, science, social and human science, culture, communication and information. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1995.