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HIST 106R: Undergraduate Research Seminar in History in Science, Technology, and Medicine (Aronova, Fall 2023): Keywords & Subject Headings


Unlike Subject Headings which use a precise, controlled vocabulary, Keywords are your own search terms that best express the essence of your topic. 

Advantages to using keywords:

  • keyword searches will retrieve items that may be on topic but that were not given a relevant subject heading
  • keyword searches allow you to combine different concepts of your search. Each distinct concept goes on a separate line, connected with the default AND. Example: "charles darwin" AND religion
  • you can use the asterisk* symbol to include alternate endings to your root word,. religiowill retrieve all records that include religion, religions, religious, religiosity...)
  • you can add synonyms and like terms to increase your search results (religio* OR evangel* OR church OR christian*)


Disadvantages of using keywords:

  • your results may include items that are unrelated or completely off topic: zeppelin will also retrieve records that include led zeppelin)
  • you will be searching multiple fields within the catalog record, not just the Subject Headings. This means you will get all results where your keyword appears in the Publisher, Author, Language, or other field in the record




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