In the page on Field Searching, we mentioned that you can search for your terms in the subject field to get more targeted results.
In some databases, you can take this further by utilising the database thesaurus.
Image: The thesaurus screen in the ERIC database (EBSCOhost).
What is a thesaurus?
In the Library context, a thesaurus is an organised system of subject headings/terms in a database where:
Not all databases have a thesaurus
To identify whether the database you are using has a thesaurus, look for a heading or tab at the top of the search screen. It might be labelled Thesaurus, or it might have a specific name such as CINAHL Subject Headings or MeSH Terms.
How do I use a thesaurus?
This will vary according to the database. The process is usually to browse or search the thesaurus to identify the subject term which matches your topic, and then add that term (or terms) into a search box or search builder. When using a thesaurus, we usually search for one concept, or part of a topic, at a time, and then use Search History to combine the search sets.
Some databases/thesauri have extra features which might include:
Image: The thesaurus screen (Australian Thesaurus of Education Descriptors) in the A+ Education (Informit) database.