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Research Process: Subject Terms and Database Thesauri

an introduction to the research process at a very basic level

Subject Terms & Database Thesauri

Subject terms are specific words that describe each book or article within. Library databases have searchable thesauri to organize these subject terms.

You can use thesauri to figure out keywords to use in your search when you aren’t sure which keywords to use. Using thesaurus can also help you find synonyms or combination of terms.
A lot of databases offer you “Suggested Topics” or “Suggested Subjects” once you have run your search. Look for these suggestions to find subject words that are related to your keyword search. Below is an example from ProQuest Central.


alt="ProQuest search results screen showing the "Other searches to try" section"

Watch the tutorials below, for additional tips on subject terms and thesauri:

EBSCOhost Subject terms

This tutorial demonstrates how to browse the Subject Terms Authority File in EBSCOhost as well as how to create database searches using subject terms.

Ebsco Tutorials. (2018, May 10). Browsing subject terms in EBSCOhost Databases [Video file]. YouTube.

Proquest Thesaurus

This tutorial demonstrates how to search ProQuest thesaurus:

ProQuest. (2015, August 13). ProQuest Thesaurus [Video file]. YouTube.