Political Science 332: Finding Resources

New York City Politics
Professor: Mason Williams
Fall 2019

Using Subject Headings

Subject Headings are terms that are most commonly used to describe the topic that a resource covers. Unlike keywords, which are user generated, subject headings are created and maintained by an authoritative institution. Since Williams Libraries, and most academic libraries, organizes our resources using the Library of Congress Classification, we also utilize Library of Congress Subject Headings to provide access to our collections by subject. Subject headings are arranged systematically, and can be useful tools to help browse the collection by topic. Subject headings for each resource are located in the "Details" section of the catalog record, under "Subjects."

Below are examples of Subject Headings that may be used as starting points for your research projects.

Subject Librarian

Profile Photo
Hale Polebaum-Freeman
Meet your librarian:
Contact:
Research Services
Sawyer Library
413-597-4321
hop1@williams.edu
Pronouns: they/them/their(s)

Narrow Your Search

Combine concepts with AND to find more relevant sources

picasso AND Africa

internet AND privacy

bedrock AND Massachusetts AND hydrology

 

Use “double quotes” to find exact phrases

"rock art"

“African diaspora”

“invertible matrix”

 

Use proximity searching* to find words near each other

women NEAR violence

progressive NEAR/10 tax

"global warming" NEAR/20 "sea level"

*Proximity searching works differently in different databases.  Check the help section of the database to learn how to properly use it.

 

Broaden Your Search

Use ORs and parentheses to combine synonyms or multiple topics

(oil OR petroleum OR crude)

(antibiotic OR antiviral)

(woman OR girl OR female)

 

Truncate roots of important words* to find plurals and more

perform* (searches for perform, performance, performativity, etc.)

cell$

pregnan!

 

Insert a “wild card” [*?$!] to catch words with different spellings

wom?n

coloni#ation

odo$r

 

*Truncation and wild cards work differently in different databases. Check the help section of the database to learn what symbol to use and how to properly use it.