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Occupational Therapy - Dallas

Occupational therapy research guide for TWU Dallas students, faculty and staff.

Subject searching

                picture of a monitor providing link to a video tut             Example of a subject heading search.

Subject headings A subject heading search, also known as a controlled vocabulary search, will search for articles on a given subject rather than by looking for keywords within the text, i.e. an article will be tagged and indexed in a database as being about certain subjects. It is these subjects that are searched for.

Not all databases use the same subject heading catalog:


  • Subject heading searches are easy to run
  • All articles produced should all be about the subject you have selected
  • In theory, you should receive more pertinent, albeit fewer, results than a keyword search. 


  • Subject heading searches  will not always produce the most recent literature a database has to offer
    • Because of the high volume of medical literature coming out every week, most databases, if not all, are several months behind at indexing articles. Until articles have been properly indexed they will not show up on a subject heading search. However, a keyword search will pick up articles as soon as they are uploaded to the database regardless of if they have been indexed yet or not
  • Only the bigger databases offer the utility of a subject heading search. All other databases will need to be keyword searched