So You Think You're an Expert: Keyword Searching vs. Controlled Subject Headings

April Grey, Christine R. Hurko


The authors examine the differences between keyword searching and controlled subject headings in conducting research and the relative issues of each. They highlight the habits of students who frequently use Google to search and how this colors the students’ ability to search in controlled environments like traditional databases. The benefits of taxonomies (the structure of LCSH) are examined as a means of more effective searching. Folksonomies and social tagging are also discussed. The authors highlight that LCSH is more in line with effective information literacy instruction and conclude that controlled subject heading searching is truly a more effective means of conducting research.


keyword searching; controlled subject headings; information literacy; taxonomies; folksonomies; LCSH

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