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Boolean Searching Tips: Keywords Searching

Searching tips and techniques for higher-level students. Advanced searching techniques to ensure retrieving all possible information.

Keywords and Subject headings

How to find subject headings:

- Choose a word or a phrase that better desrcibes your chosen topic.

- Go through the search results you got and choose 2 or more of these results.

- Start searching again using these results.

- The more you repeat the above steps the more your research results will be precise.

Keyword searching:

Searching for a word or phrase using web search engines.

Subject heading searching:

Searching databases by using most relevant terms that better describes your topic.

Keywords Vs. Subject headings


  • Natural language words.
  • Flexible in searching.
  • Can combine words together.
  • The search result could be too many or only few.
  • The chance in getting irrelevant results is higher.

Subject headings

  • Pre-defined words.
  • Less flexible in searching.
  • Need to know the exact pre-defined word.
  • If you get many results use subheadings to limit your search and narrow the broad subject.
  • The search results usually relevant and to the topic.