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ENG 101 Prof Emanuele1: Keyword and Subject Term Searching

Research Assignment: Educational Experiences

Subject Heading/Terms Searching

Narrow with Subject Headings/Terms Subject

Subject Heading/Term Searching

Each Database uses their own standardized tags or subject headings or subject terms, or thesaurus to identify topics. Subject heading, unlike keywords, do not have to appear in your results.

  • youth may be the subject heading for the keyword teenager in one database
  • adolescent may be used in another database for the keyword teenager.


Advantages of using subject headings or terms: subject terms are used not created.

  • they get at what the content is actually about rather than seeking out the words the data uses to describe the topic
  • gives results that are more precise
  • subject terms or thesaurus terms are assigned on the basis of what the record is actually about

How to identify subject headings in a database:

  • first do a keyword search then find a record closest to your chosen topic
  • open up the citation portion of the record and search for the subject terms in that record
  • this is different for each database
  • at the top of some databases is the term SUBJECT TERMS or THESAURUS may be used

Combining subject heading and keyword searching to narrow your search:

  • keywords can be used effectively to narrow within a subject area
  • use keywords if you don't know a subject term
  • the same words can be used as keywords or subject terms
  • once you have determined that a phrase or name is a subject heading in that particular database, the words that make up the phrase will appear together and quotation marks are no longer needed


Use the AND, OR connectors to narrow or expand a search.

AND will narrow your search if you get too many results combine words by going to the second search box and typing a word or phrase next to the word  AND

Example: "Faith Ringgold" 

        AND  riots


OR will expand your search so the results will include all the variations of the word or phrase. OR can be used in the same search box or chosen in the second box. Use OR if you get too few results.

Example: factories or "industrial building" or "car manufacturing plant"

        OR     "American factories" 

  • Last Updated: Oct 2, 2020 10:58 AM
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