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Home » A Primer on Databases and Catalogs » Subject Headings

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Subject Headings

Search using "controlled vocabulary"

As you look through the results of an initial search you will see that the article citations have subject headings or descriptors. Articles that have similar content will have the same subject headings even if the authors of the articles used different terms to describe the topic.

For example, one author may use the phrase "capital punishment" and another "death penalty." The subject heading on both records will be the same.

This is called a controlled vocabulary. By searching using that subject heading you will retrieve records where either term is used. Sometimes these subject headings are hyperlinked and you can link to other articles with similar content. Other databases do not offer this function and so you would have to do a new search using the terms you have discovered.

WANT MORE on subject headings?
> Unit 2 > Starting Your Search
> Unit 5 > The Great GALILEO

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