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Search Strategies: Tips for Working with Databases: Other Techniques

The following guide is an introduction to creating search terms, and using subject headings, keywords and search syntax.

Subject Headings

Subject searching can return fewer records, but you'll have more relevant results.

  • Run a keyword search.
  • Review the results to discover subject or descriptors.
  • Rerun your search and incorporate searching by the subject.

Another way to find subjects is to use database Thesaurus or Subjects. These options vary by database. For instance, the MLA International Bibliography with Full Text has two options: a Thesaurus and a Names as Subjects.

In the Thesaurus searching for Mardi Gras refers you to use the subject Carnival.