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Search by Subject Headings!

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Are you having trouble finding relevant articles with your keyword searches? Try searching by subject headings. It's an effective way to find focused information on any topic.

What is a Subject Heading?

Subject headings are standardized tags that describe the content of an item. You can use these tags to find material on the same topic regardless of the words used in the material's text.

 

Differences Between Subject and Keyword Searches

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Keyword Searching Subject Heading Searching
Good for obscure or contemporary topics Good for general and universal topics
Can generate many irrelevant results Lists highly relevant results for each topic
Can use any term to describe topic to find relevant information Need to know specific subject heading or vocabulary to search in subject heading list
Will search for keyword in any field Will only search in subject heading or descriptor field

Combining Subject and Keyword Searches

Searching is not a one-step process that has one right answer. Using a combination of searching techniques generates the most relevant results.

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Subject Headings in Action!

Let's see how using subject headings can help your research in the Academic Search Complete database available at your library. To watch the demo in a new browser window, click on the image below.

Note: This tutorial was created by the University of California Libraries.

Subject Headings Demo

 

Self-Check

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Find it by Field Searching!

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Searching in a database using different fields can be a powerful way to find relevant results. A field is a specific part of a record in a database. Common fields that can be searched are:

fields

If you already know the author of a specific article, entering their Last Name, First Name in the author field will pull more relevant records than a keyword search. This will ensure all results are articles written by the author and not articles about that author or just with that author’s name mentioned anywhere in the record.

 

Field Searching vs. Keyword Searching

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Field Searching in Action!

Let's see how searching by fields can help your research in the Academic Search Complete database available at your library. To watch the demo in a new browser window, click on the image below.

Note: This tutorial was created by the University of California Libraries.

Field Searching Demo

 

Self-Check

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Different Databases = Different Information

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Different databases search different sources and types of information. Match the type of information you need to the database you choose.

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Understanding the Differences

Be sure you know the difference between the database name and the database provider that hosts the database. For example, EBSCO is the name of the database provider that hosts Academic Search Complete but it also provides access to many other databases.

 

Using EBSCO as an Example

EBSCOhost Example

Searching in Different Databases

You have mastered the art of truncation and Boolean operators in Academic Search Complete, but how can you apply your skills to other databases? Most databases have the same searching options but look completely different, so now can you apply your searching knowledge wisely.

Remember databases all use the same basic search options. Once you are in a new database, take a look around to find where you can use:

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Academic Search Complete

Here's where to find some of the search and limit options in Academic Search Complete and other databases provided by EBSCO:

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Biological Sciences

Here's where to find different search and limit options in Biological Sciences, one of the databases provided by Proquest:

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Quiz: What Have You Learned?

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Note: This section of the Research LOOP is adapted from a tutorial created by the University of California Libraries.