Subject heading search tips
In databases that use subject heading searching eg the advanced search in CINAHL Plus and the Ovid databases such as Medline and APA PsycINFO, you are mapped or directed to the most relevant subject heading(s) relating to the word or phrase you have typed in the search box, but often a different word or list of words may be presented.
- When you are presented with a list of subject headings, select the most relevant one.
- If there is no relevant subject heading, search using your key word.
- When you have done a key word search select a few relevant records. Check to see if these records have subject headings; if so, and the headings are relevant, use them to do more searching.
- If you need to do a comprehensive search eg for a systematic review, use both key words and subject headings in eg your Medline search. This will pick up articles not yet assigned subject headings and ensure complete coverage of all search terms.
- / indicates a subject heading, in this example a MeSH
- exp indicates the subject heading is exploded
- tw indicates a keyword search and the words occur in the title and/or abstract