Subject Searching means using search terms that have been devised by the creators of a database to aid searching. Sometimes these terms are called Descriptors; they are similar to Tags that are used in many social media.
Subject Terms are sets of pre-established words and phrases used to describe the contents of library catalogs, such as ALICE, or article databases, such as ERIC or PsycINFO..
In some databases, the set of subject terms is called a Thesaurus–not to be confused with a place for looking up synonyms. Using terms from a Thesaurus is a great way to improve the quality of your search results.
Comparison of Keyword and Subject Searching
The table below summarizes the differences between searching by Keyword and searching using a pre-established Subject Term (or Descriptor).
|Keyword Searching||Subject Searching|
|Sample List: dog, dawg, canine, canidae, hound, mongrel, mutt, pooch, etc.||Sample List [Subject Headings from ALICE]: dogs, canidae|
|Available in Keyword searches in…
||Available in Subject searches in…
…but NOT in Google or Yahoo