This is the "Searching Using Subject Headings" page of the "Advanced Database Searching" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Tips on effectively searching databases using operators etc
Last Updated: Mar 24, 2016 URL: http://libguides.fccc.edu/content.php?pid=564013 Print Guide RSS Updates

Searching Using Subject Headings Print Page
  Search: 
 
 

Subject Searching: Introduction

Since their inception, most databases have moved away from controlled vocabulary and towards natural language searching. Natural language is what allows for keyword searching. You type your terms in the search box and provided the author(s) used the same terms in the abstract, you will see results. It is important to note that databases have not abandoned controlled vocabulary completely. PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE, among others, still have their own thesauri that you can use to build and conduct searches.

 

Subject Searching: Ovid

Medline, like PubMed, uses MeSH headings as its thesaurus. PsycInfo, however, uses the APA's Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials uses MeSH and EMTREE subjects headings. To search either of these Ovid databases by subject headings:

Type your search term in the text box provided.

  1. Select the Map Term to Subject Heading check box, and then click Search.
  2. Select the check box next to the subject heading you are most interested in and then click Continue.
    If the search term you typed is an acutal MeSH heading, then it is the only term that will appear on the page.
  3. Select the check boxes associated with any subheadings to which you wish to narrow your search, and then click Continue, or
    If you do not wish to select any subject headings, click Continue.

Please note that not all Ovid databases allow you to perform a subject search.

 

Subject Searching: CINAHL

CINAHL uses a combination of MeSH headings at its own thesaurus for subject headings. To conduct a subject search in CINAHL:

  1. Type your search term in the text box provided.
  2. Select the Suggested Search Terms check box and then click Search.
  3. In the Results For section, select the checkbox associated with the term in which you are interested.
  4. In the Subheadings For section, select the checkbox(es) associated with the subheadings to which you would like to focus your search, and then click Search Database, or
    To search all subheadings, all subheadings is select by default, click Search Database.

 

Subject Searching: Web of Science

Web of Science does not have a thesaurus so much as it has categories. "Every journal and book covered by Web of Science Core Collection is assigned to at least one of the following subject categories. Every record in Web of Science Core Collection contains the subject category of its source publication in the Web of Science Categories field." For a list of categories, see the following Web of Science Core Collection Help page.

The only way to search using Web of Science categories is to perform an advanced search:

  1. On the basic search drop-down list, click Advanced Search
  2. In the text box provided, type WC=<Web of Science category>, and then click Search.
    For example WC=Physics, Atomic, Molecular & Chemical
  3. In the Search History section, click on the number of results. The number is hyperlinked.

Please note, you can use the same boolean operators in the advanced search as you can in the basic search.

 

Subject Searching: SCOPUS

Subject searching in SCOPUS is complicated. First of all, a subject search can only be conducted in Advanced Search mode. While that in and of itself does not make it complcated, you are also required to know SCOPUS' subject areas and their corresponding abbreviations. SCOPUS provides examples of subject areas and their abbreviations on the Advanced Search page.

To conduct a subject search in SCOPUS:

  1. On the SCOPUS home page, click Advanced Search.
  2. In the Operators box, scroll down to and double-click on SUBJAREA.
  3. In the text box, type the subject area abbreviation in the parentheses.
    For example SUBJAREA=(MEDI).
  4. Click the search button.

For a sample list of SCOPUS subject areas

  1. On the SCOPUS home page, click Advanced Search.
  2. In the Operators box, scroll down to and click on SUBJAREA.
    Don't double-click.
  3. Scroll down to the explanatory text just below the Operators box and click more info.
 

Subject Searching: EMBASE

EMBASE has its own thesaurus — EMTREE. EMTREE is a hierarchically structured, controlled vocabulary for biomedicine and related life sciences. It includes  terms for drugs, diseases, medical devices, and life science concepts. MeSH terms are included in the EMTREE thesaurus.

To search EMBASE by EMTREE:

  1. On the Browse drop-down menu, click EMTREE
  2. On the Find Term tab, type your search term in the text box provided and then click Find Term.
  3. Click to select an EMTREE term.
  4. Click Take this Query to Disease/Device Search (whether the button says disease or device depends on the EMTREE term), or
    Click Add to Query Builder, or
    Browse the EMTREE hierarchy for related terms and click to select the term that best reflects your subject of interest,if any appear.

To scroll through the EMTREE hierarchy:

  1. On the Browse drop-down menu, click EMTREE.
  2. Click on the Browse by Facet tab.
  3. Click on the + button to expand EMTREE terms.
  4. Click to select the EMTREE term.
  5. Click Take this Query to Disease/Device Search (whether the button says disease or device depends on the EMTREE term), or
    Click Add to Query Builder, or
    Browse the EMTREE hierarchy for related terms and click to select the term that best reflects your subject of interest,if any appear.

Reference Desk

Profile Image
Talbot Research Library & Media Services
Logo - FacebookLogo - Twitter
Contact Info
Tel. 215-728-2711
Send Email
 
Description

Loading  Loading...

Tip