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Western (Individualized Studies): Find Articles

Requesting books and articles

Using subject headings

Most discipline based databases and indexes will use some form of subject heading organization to identify what articles are about. These headings come from an approved list of terms and fit into a map of related terms, narrower terms, and broader terms.

Browsing subject headings is particularly useful when begining your research to identify the accepted term for a particular concept.  Looking through the list of broader, narrower and related terms will help in creating your mental map of each discipline as it relates to your topic.

How to find subject headings:
Subject headings can usually be found in the the full record information in the database.
Databases will often have a feature allowing you to either search or browse subject headings. It is ususally listed under "browse" or "thesaurus" on the search page.

Subject heading vs. keyword searching:
Subject headings are added to an article based on what it is about as it's added to a database. Subject searching will return results that are about the topic you are searching. Use this to narrow a search to more relevant articles.
Keyword searches will return results if they contain the words or phrases you searched for. Articles may or may not be about the desired topic. It is a more broad search, but not all results will be relevant.

Search Tip: Use the Find It! Button

When you search a database for a "Full Text" item, you are only searching through that particular database for the document in full-text, and not our entire collection.  An item may exist as a "Full Text" selection within a different database.

If you don't find an item as full-text in the database you're searching, use the "Find It" button to cross-search other databses for that same item.  You may discover that we have electronic access to that material after all.

Find It! button


Many of our databases are discipline based. Visit the subject guides for more information on discipline specific research databases.

Other databases are multi-disciplinary, containing information in more than one subject area.
A few examples are:

  • Academic Search Complete
    Covers most disciplines including social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts and literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies.
  • Web of Science
    Contains the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, the Social Science Citation Index, and the Science Citation Index.

  • Humanities International Complete
    An index to articles (many full-text, online) in hundreds of literary magazines and scholarly journals in the arts, history, literature, philosophy, and religion.
    Full-text archive of important scholarly periodicals in the Arts, Business, Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences.