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EN4103 - Michaud

Subject vs. Keyword

The most common type of search is a subject search; you are looking for information on a subject. However, you can also do keyword and text word searches. Each type of search will give you a different number and list of results.

  • Subject Search:  Each article has a number of terms that identify the main subject of that article. When you do a subject search, the database will only find articles that have that term defined as a specific subject term. When you use these subject terms, your results will be relevant and specific, however, they will less in number.
  • Keyword Search: The database will only find articles that have that term within the author field, title field, or abstract (paragraph summary) field of the article. You will likely have more results, but some may be less relevant.
  • Text Word Search: The database will search the entire text of the article (author, title, subject, abstract, and text) for the term. You will have the largest set of results, but there will be a larger portion that is not relevant.

Boolean Operators

AND, OR, and NOT are used to combine words together. Each word tells the computer how to search each term in relation to the other term(s), and will give you different results.

  • And combines search terms so that search results contain all of the terms.  For example,  Nathaniel Hawthorne AND the Romantic Movement finds articles that contain both Nathaniel Hawthrone and the Romantic Movement.
  • Or combines search terms so that search results contain at least one of the terms. For example, sublime OR grandeur finds results that contain either sublime or grandeur.
  • Not excludes terms so that search results do not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, college students NOT high school students find results that contain college students but not high school students.
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