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Psychology: Advanced Search Techniques


Keywords vs. Subject Headings

REVIEW: There are two types, or levels, of search terms: keywords and subject headings. 

From: MIT Libraries

Keywords are natural language that you will come up with on your own.  These are the natural key words you think up.


Subject headings are the structured vocabulary that the scholars in the field or the academic databases use for the keywords that you come up with. 

(You will learn more about these in Module #3.)


The More You Know:

Finding subject headings is like learning a new language. It is necessary to know the language of scholars, because that is the language they are using for their articles. In order to find them, you need to know the terms they are using.

Use of Subject Headings

What do you do with subject headings?

In addition to searching with your key words, do an additional search using your subject headings.  Because this is the recognized vocabulary, you may receive better results.

Finding Subject Headings 1


There are two ways to find subject headings.


Instructions: Watch both videos, then complete the practice activity below.

#1. Database Thesaurus

Click   on video for captions.

Note: Each database you will be searching should have a thesaurus. It may be called different things from "thesaurus" or "subject headings" to "MeSH headings" or "CINAHL headings", but there should be one.

#2. Relevant Articles

Click   on video for captions.