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Modern Languages: A Research Guide

Combine Keyword & Subject Searching

Combine keyword and subject searching for the best results

  1. Begin with a keyword search.
  2. Browse the results and look at the full record of an especially appropriate article.
  3. Scroll down to the subject headings/descriptors.
  4. Click on the best subject heading/descriptor link.
  5. Write down other listed subject terms and continue searching with those terms.

Keyword Search

Free text, natural language or keyword searches are used with computerized databases and search engines.

  • Searches any and all fields of a computer record for the term
  • Every article that mentions the word will be retrieved


+ Excellent for new concepts or terminology
+ Will retrieve lots of results


- Must think of all other synonyms
- Results will often not be about your topic (your term was only mentioned in the article)

Subject Search

Controlled vocabulary, descriptors, index terms or subject headings are used in computerized databases.  Articles are analyzed and the content is matched to a limited number of specified terms.

  • Searches only the field specified by the search (subject, descriptor, etc.)


+ Results will be about your topic
+ No need to think of other synonyms


- If you don’t use the correct term, you could miss some or all pertinent information