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About This Search

Library Course Guide for: WAR AND GENDER IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY EUROPE

Search Strategies

Keyword
Subject
Searches different parts of the record, including title and abstract Searches only subject heading/descriptor field
Searches for any word or phrase Searches from existing list of subject headings
May retrieve irrelevant records High degree of relevancy
Good for obscure topics Good for common topics
Consistent use of language as we speak it in all databases Different databases use different subject headings
Good substitute for a subject search when you do not know the authorized subject heading form Precise and effective way to look for materials on any given topic if you are familiar with LC subject headings or other controlled vocabulary/thesaurus.
Also known as Word Search Also know as Descriptor or Thesaurus Search

Keyword Searching
A keyword search looks for words anywhere in the record. It allows you to use your own words, rather than the controlled vocabulary (i.e. subject heading) used in a particular database.

Keywords may also be used as a substitute for a title or author search when you have incomplete title or author information.

The main disadvantage of keyword searches is that your search term may retrieve documents that are irrelevant.

Subject Searching
Trying to find all the variations and synonyms for your keywords can be frustrating and time consuming. Many databases offer an alternative known as subject searching.

Doing subject searches is a precise and effective way to look for materials on any given topic.

Different databases use different subject headings. For example, one database may use Learning Ability instead of Intelligence. When you are searching a wide variety of databases, be prepared to deal with a variety of different vocabularies.

Suggestions
Don't limit yourself to just one way of searching.

Most databases are equipped with advance search capability and some allow keyword searching within the Subject or descriptor field (i.e. Worldcat). In those cases, you may combine keywords with subject headings.

Remember that a keyword search may be the best way to find the correct subject heading for a subject search.