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Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on how to turn your topic into keywords, including the importance of synonyms.
Using Keywords from OSLIS on Vimeo.
Keyword Generator - If you know your topic and are stuck on how to break it into keywords and create search strings from those keywords, try this interactive keyword generator. (See sample below.)
Identifying Keywords - If you are stuck on where to find keywords, how to pick the right synonyms, and how many keywords you need for an effective search, remember to focus on the most important nouns only, and check this research guide for more helpful tips and links.
Check out the video below for a quick explanation of how to go from topic to keywords to search string.
While keywords are how we conceptualize our searches, subject terms are how the database organizes topics. It's the difference between using CTRL-F to search for terms wherever they may appear in a source and using the index or table of contents to search for officially designated topics. For a helpful overview of how keyword and subject term searching differ and when you'd want to use one or the other, check out this research guide.
Most databases make it easy to browse or search subject terms.
In the Slavery and Anti-Slavery Archive (Gale), for example, there is an Advanced Search button at the top of the page:
Clicking this link will take you to the Advanced Search Page:
Here you can search by Person Subject or Geographic Subject, both of which will compare the terms you enter against the standard list of Library of Congress Subjects Headings.
NOTE: No two databases function in exactly the same manner. For assistance using subject terms in a different database, please contact Librarian Lisa Finder or the Hunter Reference Librarians by using the "Librarian" and "Help" modules on the left.