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General Library Research Tutorial

Fundamental concepts and vocabulary used in library and information research.

G. Keyword and Subject Searching

Keyword and Subject Searching  

Keyword Searching 

A keyword (or word) search retrieves words or phrases from several important fields, usually title, subject and abstract.

Keyword search: AIDS

A keyword search usually retrieves more items than a subject search, but they may not all be relevant. For example, a search on AIDS could retrieve:

• aids for the hearing impaired
• school aids
• AIDS (the disease) 


Subject Searching

A subject search involves searching for a subject heading in a database.  A subject heading is a consistent term used when there are several ways to state a concept. For example, the disease AIDS may also be called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Look in the database thesaurus to find a subject heading for your topic.

Subject Search: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


Keyword & Subject Comparison 


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