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A library catalogue will generally use American spelling for subjects, e.g. color, labor, pediatrics, organizational, encyclopedia, etc.
Database records include subject terms. These terms can help you find more on a topic.
Database records may use alternative names for subject terms. They could be called descriptors, identifiers or subjects.
When you get your assignment, you may notice that only using the words from your question might not retrieve the best results from the library's resources. As you will be searching a world of material, it is important to remember to keep trying different keywords if you aren't finding what you need. For example, if the term aboriginal doesn't retrieve useful results try searching for the term indigenous. Also, remember that American spelling is sometimes different to Australian spelling e.g. colour and color, and different terms are sometimes used in other countries e.g. footpath, pavement and sidewalk.
Starting with a broad term can give you ideas for other terms to search. You can also get more targeted results by searching for only those terms most relevant to your topic. There are some terms so new, the databases may not recognise them yet. Start with a web search or a current online dictionary.
Before citing any online information in your work it is a good idea to evaluate the information according to these criteria:
Subject headings, or descriptors, are used in catalogue and database records to describe the contents of a book, article or other resource. They are a useful way of checking to see if an item you have found will be relevant to the topic you are researching.
Note the subjects in the following record:
This record has the following subjects:
Cities and towns -- Energy consumption
City planning -- Environmental aspects
Architecture / Urban & Land Use Planning
Architecture / Sustainability & Green Design
Business & Economics / Infrastructure
Business & Economics / Green Business
Business & Economics / Urban & Regional
Nature/ Environmental Conservation & Protection
Identifying the subjects of an item helps you:
UNSW Library Subject Guides include examples of subject dictionaries and encyclopedias such as:
Dictionary of media and communication
Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy
International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences
Encyclopaedic Australian legal dictionary
Food and fitness: a dictionary of diet and exercise
Encyclopedia of marine science
Ullman's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry
You can also search for dictionaries and encyclopedias on your topic in the Library collection: