Search terms and search strategies

tekijä: Tiia Marjaana Puputti Viimeisin muutos perjantai 23. syyskuuta 2016, 10.25

Search term and search strategy

 A search term refers to any word you use in searching information. This can be a natural language term or a subject term found in a database subject index.

A search strategy refers to what kind of search terms you use, what language you choose, and how you combine the search terms into a search statement, and how you refine your search. Different databases and other resources require different kind of search strategies. 

Natural language terms

You can start searching with the main concepts of your topic and their alternative expressions or synonyms listed in your mind map. Use these terms to make trial searches in JYKDOK and other databases. This will help you find new search terms.

Subject terms: thesauri and subject indexes

The following video Thesauri and subject indexes (2 min 26 secs) shows you what thesauri and subject term indexes are, and how you can use them in information searching.

Choose English subtitles from the quotation mark icon below the video screen: subtitles.png
(If the video does not work below, use this link to watch the video.)

In addition to natural language terms, you should also look up subject terms/descriptors in the thesaurus or subject index of the database. Subject terms are words used for describing the contents of the document in a database. A thesaurus is an alphabetical listing of all the subject terms in a single database, used to classify and organize information for that database. The thesaurus shows relationships between terms such as synonymous or related terms, and hierarchical arrangements such as broader terms, or narrower terms. Using subject terms as search terms and limiting your search to the descriptor field gives you more relevant results. Most databases have their own thesaurus. The materials in the databases have controlled thesaurus descriptors.

Finding subject terms from books, articles and thesis

You can look up subject terms and keywords in the subject terms section of a particular article or a book in the database. 

Example: An article with the title of  Preparing Early Childhood Educators for Global Education: The Implications of Prior Learning
has many descriptors in the ERIC database, such as

Teacher Education, Early Childhood Education, Kindergarten, Best Practices, Thematic Approach, Educational History, Educational Development, School Expansion, Educational Quality

Follow the links in the subject-section to find more similar articles, or use the descriptors when searching in other databases. 


Finding and using subject terms and thesauri in databases 

Subject terms can be found in databases under the name Thesaurus, Subject terms, Subject term glossary etc. You should check the thesaurus of each database you use, because different databases may use different descriptors for the same phenomenon. All thesauri have basically the same structure. 

How to use thesaurus to find subject terms related to Early childhood education in ERIC database




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