A database is an organized collection of online records in a standardized format that can be stored and accessed in a variety of ways. The library catalog (QuickSearch) is one example of a database.
Each record in the library catalog (QuickSearch) is composed of important elements of information that describe a specific item. For example, the elements of information for a specific book title would be contained in a single catalog record.
Each record is composed of a set of fields which contain the individual elements of information. For example, each record in a library catalog includes fields such as: title, author, and subject headings.
Example of a Record from QuickSearch:
A keyword search retrieves words or phrases from the important fields of the database records. In most databases a keyword search finds words in fields that have descriptive content, such as author, article title, source title (book, journal, magazine, or newspaper, subject/descriptor terms, and abstract. In some databases, additional fields may be included in the keyword search. And in other databases, a keyword search will search everything in every record. Some keyword search engines allow you to specify which field(s) are to be searched.
A keyword search usually retrieves more items than a subject search, but they may not all be relevant. The computer is looking for the exact word you typed, not for the meaning or context of the word.
For example, a search on AIDS will retrieve items on...
A keyword search is the best method to use when:
Some search tips:
A subject search involves searching the subject headings used in a database. Most databases include subject headings that are assigned to each record.
A list of subject headings, called a database thesaurus, ensures that all items about the same topic have uniform headings. Users can then retrieve all of the items on the same topic using one word or term, even when there may be several other ways to state the concept. By using the subject heading, you will retrieve every relevant item for your topic. Searching with a subject heading retrieves items ABOUT that particular topic, and it is a more precise search than a keyword search.
For example, you may want to research the topic death penalty.
Possible ways (synonyms) to state this topic include:
The thesaurus for the library catalog (QuickSearch) is called Library of Congress Subject Headings. If you would like to consult this resource, or if you are unsure whether a particular database has a thesaurus, ask a reference librarian.
Subject Heading Search:
Use QuickSearch to search for items at all three Reynolds campus libraries including:
Specific search tips for using QuickSearch:
For additional information on searching QuickSearch:
General search strategy tips:
**You can also access QuickSearch from most of our course and subject research guides located at http://libguides.reynolds.edu.