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HIST 495: Historiography and Research Writing

This course guide was created to accompany a library-led instruction session for HIST 495 covering research methods and library services available for students.

Subject Searching

Subject searching, or searching for a specific subject heading in a database, can help you find resources on a specific topic. The easiest way to do this is also the simplest. Search for 1 good article on your topic, open its Abstract/Details page, and then click on the corresponding subject heading. 

Subjects list in a database, along with authors, source, historical period, and document type

This is great as a starting point if you aren't sure what subject headings a specific database uses.

Using the Thesaurus

Thesaurus searching is a more in-depth way of combing through the search terms and subjects unique to a database to optimize your research. 

Thesaurus Searches are built into most ProQuest databases and some EBSCO databases (often under the name "Subject Terms"), and a select few others. Look for a link that says “thesaurus,” “topics,” “subjects,” “descriptors” or “related terms” if you can't find a Thesaurus tool clearly marked. 

Academic Search Ultimate screenshot with "Subject Terms" highlighted in the header menu

After you look up a term in the Thesaurus, it will show a list of related Subject Terms, which you can explore in more detail or use to build out a new search: 

Browsing Academic Search Ultimate Subject Terms with the search "imperialism" and related terms shown beneath the search

More specific information about Thesaurus searching in ProQuest is provided in the ProQuest Thesaurus Search Guide linked below: 

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Becca Yowler