Keyword and Subject Searching

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

Keyword search: AIDS

example of a record with subjects
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.

 example of a record with subjects
Keyword & Subject Comparison 

  comparison table of keyword vs subject