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WRIT 1150 (Tomlinson): Writing & Culture Seminar

Spring 2024

Using Subject Headings

Subject headings are used in library catalogs and databases to describe what a work is intellectually and substantially about. They are useful for finding relevant, targeted results that are about particular topics rather than just happening to have the words mentioned somewhere in the record. They function similarly to hashtags in social media and can generally be clicked on to get to all of the other resources that have been tagged with that same heading.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to identify relevant subject headings for your research topic:

1. Begin with a keyword search to gather some initial search results. If you're uncertain how to identify keywords, review the Generating Search Terms (Keywords) page first.

Keyword search for journalis* AND ethics

2. Browse your initial results results, taking a closer look at several of the most relevant results.

Results from keyword search

3. In the records for those results, look at the subject headings included and make note of any relevant terms used.

Subject headings highlighted in article record

4. Run a new search using those terms, limiting to subjects. You can also simply click on one of the subject terms to launch a new search.

Subject search for Journalistic Ethics

5. Review your new results. They should be more focused than your initial results.

Results from subject search for journalistic ethics


What if I need help?

If you need assistance searching with subject headings, please reach out to the library for help.

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