Most databases on the Library's website allow you to search for articles.

What's in a database? | Choosing the right database
Searching by keywords | Using subject terms | Locating articles

Some databases use standardized terms and phrases such as subject terms, descriptors or subject headings to describe different topics.

Using this standardized terminology can be helpful when searching for a concept that can be expressed in more than one way.

Look for a thesaurus, an index or subject terms feature when using a database to take advantage of this valuable search option.


You are interested in researching the use of prescription drugs by the elderly.

Conducting keyword search using the statement "prescription drugs" AND elderly will likely retrieve hundreds of results.

By browsing a few of these results, you may notice that some of the subject terms used to describe the articles are "older people" and "medications".

Try a new search using these terms and specify that they must by located in the subject field of the record. By doing so, you may end up with a much more focused list of results.

Tip: Every database develops its own thesaurus or list of standardized subject terms. Therefore, you should not assume that terms used in one database are the same in another.