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Learning and Guidance guide

Guide for information resources in Education

TOP thesauri and dictionaries in your field

A good way to begin your search is to use a dictionary or a specialized lexicon of terms (thesaurus) to identify suitable search terms or synonyms and broaden your search. Many databases include this feature, also called Subject Terms; Subject Headings, or Descriptors.

Subject search

Focus the search with subject terms

  • In subject search, the agreed vocabulary terms, in other words, thesaurus is used
  • The search only targets words that describe the content of the publication in the database's subject field 
  • Accurate search if the relevant word you choose covers your topic well
  • Useful and effective in a wide range of data, such as a large article database.

Enable different vocabularies and thesauri and enhance your search. You can find thesauri online, as well as in the connection of some databases..

Information seeking is a smart use of appropriate words, not information technology!

  • find concepts related to your topic
  • look for exact terms as well as wider entities
  • also note other alternative or similar concepts

Watch the video: Find search words from thesauri

Combination of search terms

How to combine search terms?

Use Boolean operators:

  • AND (narrow) use when you want ALL search terms must appear in resulting publication or document. 

boolen AND-operaattori

For example,with terms students AND well-being you will find information on students' well-being .

  • OR (broaden) use when you want ANY of your search terms must appear in resulting publication or document.

    boolen OR-operaattori
  • For example, search query well-being OR "life quality" OR welfare broadens the search and produces many results.


  • NOT (narrow) use when you want to exclude word(s) from your resulting publication or document.

    boolen NOT-operaattori

    For example, search query students NOT "open university" excludes the last word from results.