Keywords & Subject Headings

Keywords are words or phrases that can appear anywhere in the item (citation data or full text of a book or an article). Keyword searching is how you typically search web search engines and it is a good start to find relevant subject headings in databases.

Subject headings are formally assigned, standardized set of terms (also called descriptors) within a database to identify the primary topics of a book or an article.

Subject Headings

Most academic libraries utilize the Library of Congress Classification System to organize and describe the materials in their collections.

When searching the library catalog or databases, to increase the relevance of search results, limit search terms to library subject headings or subject words. Here are some examples:

  • Academic achievement >United States
  • Affirmative action programs in education
  • Affirmative action programs >United States
  • African American students
  • African Americans >Education >Social aspects
  • Classroom environment
  • Discrimination in education
  • Dropout behavior, Prediction of
  • Educational equalization
  • Educational sociology>United States.
  • Hispanic Americans >Education >Social aspects.
  • Minorities >Education >United States
  • Progressive education >United States
  • Racism in education
  • Right to education
  • School choice >Social aspects
  • School environment
  • School integration >United States
  • Sex differences in education
  • Sex discrimination in education
  • Sexism in education >United States
  • Socially handicapped children >Education
  • Technical education>Social aspects
  • Women >Education >United States
  • Working class >Education

Library of Congress Classification is NOT Perfect!