This is the "Process Pt. 2" page of the "Subject Heading Searching " guide.
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Last Updated: Jul 14, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Process Part 2

The Subject Terms feature in Academic Search Complete uses the Subject Tree Hierarchy which is a way to show relationships between one subject term and other related terms. Understanding a Subject Tree Hierarchy will be helpful in other areas of library research.

A Subject Tree Hierarchy is a list of terms presented so that the relationship of terms is visually shown. The broad term is listed on top and terms underneath that term are less broad in definition. Each level is indented. This structure is known as a hierarchy.

Conservation of Natural Resources (Term = broad)

          Water Conservation (Term = Second level less broad)

                      Water Conservation Projects (Term = Third level less broad)

Retrieval of search results

By choosing to use a subject term such as stream restoration in a search rather than exploring the subject features, your results will be fewer in number but more useful.

Figure 6 Stream Restoration subject term

A search by subject of Stream Restoration brought back 324 full text items.   

Figure 7 Search results for Stream Restoration subject term

Figure 8 Item record with Subject of Stream Restoration 

To ease the discovery of articles, databases designed by EBSCO including Academic Search Complete have integrated a feature called “Find equivalent subjects” into the search engine. If you choose Advanced Search and choose Smart Text searching, you will see that “Find equivalent subjects” is checked by default. Say the search term you enter is “restore streams.” Follow some steps to see how many results in full text are found.

1. Click on advanced search and check Find all my search terms

Figure 9 Advanced Search form

2. Enter a keyword like restore streams

Figure 10 keyword entry in Advanced Search form

3. Results in full text include 212 articles

Figure 11 Search results 

In comparison, entering Subject Terms returns 324 results that are immediately relevant. At the same time the Advanced Search form returns 212 results on a keyword phrase restore streams. Either the subject terms method or the keyword phrase should be  

Using the Subject Terms feature returns 324 results that are immediately relevant. Academic Search Complete and other Ebsco databases have an Advanced Search option. By marking Find All My Search Terms, the example above delivered 212 results. These results are likely to have a broader subject range, which is still helpful part of the research process.

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