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A keyword search retrieves any and all occurrences of a given word or combination of words, whether the words appear in the subject headings, title, or description of the article or book.
Advantage: A keyword search expands the search to all occurrences of a given word or combination of words.
Disadvantage: A keyword search may retrieve much more than you want.
A subject search searches the subject headings assigned to articles and books. Subject headings are very specific terms and phrases used by libraries to describe what a book or article is about. In order to have these terms and phrases be consistent, most libraries use subject headings defined by the Library of Congress. A subject search limits your search to an exact word or an exact combination of words assigned to a given article or book as subject headings.
Advantage: A subject search retrieves exactly what you ask for.
Disadvantage: A subject search limits you to only what you ask for.
Tips for Searching Online Databases
Multiple Key Words or Phrases: Place in separate boxes or separate by Boolean operators. Don’t string them together all on one line as you would in Google.
Phrase Search: Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase search (“classroom assessment” "phonemic awareness" "cultural literacy")
Truncation: Add an asterisk * to the end of a term to retrieve results with multiple endings
For example: educat* will retrieve records for education, educators, educational, etc.
Boolean Operators can help you expand or narrow your search
AND: (“curriculum” AND “middle school”) Narrows your search so that only records containing both search terms come back to you. OR: (teacher or instructor) Broadens your search so that all records containing the word teacher as well as all records containing the word instructor come back to you. NOT: "alternative schools" NOT “charter schools” will brings back records about alternative schools and none that are about charter schools.