Using a Database Thesaurus

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Welcome to this Information and Library Services tutorial on using a database thesaurus. This tutorial takes about 4 minutes to review. In it, you will learn how to use a database thesaurus to optimize your searching by identifying relevant search terms.

Many library databases contain a thesaurus or list of subject terms. You can use a thesaurus to identify subject terms to use in your searching. This will help make your searching more precise and help generate ideas for your research. In this tutorial, you will see an example of using the thesaurus in a library sociology database, SocINDEX with Full Text. But you can apply the same techniques in any library database that has a thesaurus. Many library databases include a thesaurus or list of subject terms, including business, information technology, psychology, and other library databases. Here is how you can use a database thesaurus.

In the library sociology database SocINDEX with Full Text, click on Subject Terms: this is the database thesaurus.

In the Browse box, enter your research topic.

An alphabetical list of subject terms appears, beginning with your subject, term, domestic violence. The database uses the term family violence to index articles having to do with this topic. By using the term family violence in this database, you will make your searching as precise as possible.

The thesaurus displays a list of subject terms related to your topic: broader, narrower, and related terms. The list of subject terms may give you ideas for further searching. You can select one of the terms and have the database perform a search on it.

The subject term you selected appears in the search box. You are now ready to retrieve articles on the topic of sibling abuse. Another word for subject term is descriptor. That is why the abbreviation DE appears next to the subject term in the search box.

You can use the thesaurus's Explode option to search on many related terms at once. For example, you can explode the term victims of family violence.

Now you are ready to search on the term victims of family violence as well as several related subject terms.

To learn more about using library databases, please visit our Web site. A UMUC librarian is always available to help you through our Ask a Librarian service.

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