Subject Heading vs. Keywords

Topic – What is your experience is using subject headings versus using keywords? Which do you prefer? Which do you believe to be more accurate in finding appropriate titles?

I still don’t feel very confident using subject headings as a search method. Sure, I can use them for link tag (hopping from link to link to find something useful), but the problem is knowing what the actual subject heading is called in the first place. With MARC tags I can find them more easily once I have an appropriate example, though. I wish that MARC indicated BT/NT/etc in an organic way, that would be useful.

Searching using keywords is the most simple thing in the world for me. It’s worked through high school and my undergrad work, and now I know some neat tricks that make it even slicker (* truncation, anyone?). So yes, I prefer using keywords to search with.

Searching using subject headings is more accurate to find appropriate titles, though. They literally designed the system to take advantage of the grouping method. I think given enough experience, I’ll be proficient in this method, but never truly comfortable with it.

As a side note, I finally understand the difference between SEE and SEE ALSO. Took me long enough.


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