Library:Library Research Skills For Biologists/Module 4/Module 4B SearchingForArticles/Page 05

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Sometimes, keyword searches can be frustrating because you retrieve results which just mention your word briefly, but are not actually about your topic. You may also wonder, have I found the best articles about my topic?

Subject Headings

Subject headings are the authorized, controlled vocabulary used to describe the subject matter of an article, i.e. what is the article about? (In addition to being called subject headings, they are sometimes called subject descriptors, MeSH - medical subject headings, etc. depending on the article index). more info...

1. Subject headings make your search results RELEVANT
Subject headings are like tags that tell you the primary topics covered in the article. Zoological Record, and many other discipline specific databases, have subject headings that allow you to make your search more relevant.

2. Subject headings make your search results COMPREHENSIVE and COMPLETE.
As you may imagine, authors may use various words to express the same subject - if you do a keyword search using a different word from the author's choice, you will miss their article. By using Subject headings, you find all of the articles that are about your topic.

Not all indexes have subject headings. i.e. Summon does not have subject headings.