Searching by Subject
You can make your search more effective in many of the journal indexes by doing a subject rather than a keyword search. With a subject search all articles about a given topic are listed under one term. Indexes which have subject searching use what is known as a "controlled vocabulary". The subject terms have been carefully selected to save you from having to look under many different words when researching a topic.
For example, in Expanded Academic Index, all articles about cars are listed in the Subject Guide under automobiles. The very word for a "subject" varies among the indexes. When you search in an index which offers subject searching check to see whether it has a thesaurus to help you. The word for "subject" varies among the indexes. Some indexes use the word "subject", some "subject heading" and still others "descriptor". However no matter what an index calls its subject terms, the purpose for them remains the same - to help you search efficiently and effectively.
A Thesaurus Can Help Your SearchMany indexes have a thesaurus which defines the subject terms, suggests related and broader subject terms and gives the date when the subject term was first used in the database. Definitions do vary from index to index. For example searching about middle age in SocioFile for sociology articles and PsycInfo for psychology articles, you might be surprised that middle age does not cover the same age range in both indexes. Both SocioFile and PsycInfo use the word "descriptor" for subject terms. SocioFile uses the "descriptor" Middle Aged Adults and defines them as persons aged 45-64. PsycInfo uses the "descriptor" Middle Aged and defines it as ages 40-59.
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last updated on 11/25/99