When an article is indexed in a database, it is given subject headings that describe what information
is covered. Subject headings are limited to a set of terms developed by the company that produces the
database. To know what terms are "subject" headings, check to see if the database provide a Thesaurus or a
List of Subjects.
►PRO: Authors use different terms when writing about the same concept (cars, automobiles, motor vehicles,
etc.). Rather than thinking of every possible synonym, find and use the subject heading for that concept to
retrieve all relevant articles, regardless of the terms authors may use.
►CON: There may not be a subject heading for your concept or it may be difficult to find one that exactly fits
Keyword and Phrase Searching
In a keyword search the database generates a list of articles that can have the term or phrase anywhere in
the record for that article ... in the title, author, abstract or even in their subject headings.
►PRO: Sometimes a concept may be a narrower aspect of a broad subject heading (text comprehension is a
specific aspect of reading). Searching "text comprehension" as a keyword phrase saves you the time of
wading through all the articles on "reading" that don't deal with text comprehension.
►CON: Keyword searching usually retrieves a lot of articles but not all of them will use the keyword in the
context you want. For example, a keyword search using "reading" might also get you articles on business
management by an author named George Reading.
Truncation allows you to search for a root form of a word and pick up all variations of that term. Truncating broadens your search and ensure that you retrieve all items containing some form of that word.
teen* will retrieve articles with the terms
A word of warning! Truncating a word so that it is too short can retrieve too many unwanted terms.
If you want all forms of the term culture, and you type cul*, your articles will contain terms that you don't want:
The best way to truncate culture is cultur*.