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English Senior Honors Seminar - Bailin

Keywords vs. Subject Headings

Sometimes, a simple keyword search finds just what you need.  But...keywords could appear anywhere in the book's record.  For example, searching with the keyword "dog" would bring back not only books with dog in the title, but also the table of contents and the publisher, e.g., Bird Dog Publishing and Bottom Dog Press.  The item published by Bottom Dog Press may have nothing to do with what you are looking for.

This will not be the case with a Subject Heading.  A subject heading indicates that that topic is a major part of the work.  Subject Headings are standardized, controlled, and organized vocabulary allowing more precise and comprehensive searching.  Using only keywords, which are not standardized, may result in missing some great material, simply because you chose a non-standard search term.