Searching Solutions: Indexed Examples

Understanding how searching changes from search engine to database.

Examples of Indexed Databases

Searching tips are available on this page for:

  • BIOSIS Citation Index / CINHAL / Gale Academic File / OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson) / PsycINFO / PubMed

Please contact me if you would to know about other databases and I will add them.



Hosted by Web of Science, this database uses BIOSIS Indexers to apply at least one Major Concepts and Concept codes to each citation.

  • Major Concepts: About 170 headings, citations may have multiple major concept
  • Concept Codes: About 570 five digit code used to represent the biological concepts discussed in the source

A key additional search field is: Taxonomic data.



In CINAHL, the thesaurus is called: CINAHL Headings. It is located in the upper navigation bar of our EBSCO hosting program.

  • Enter at term in the search box
  • Click on a term to view the hierarchy tree
  • Use check boxes to add terms to your search
  • Click the green search box at the far right of the page to start your search

Boolean Operators: AND, OR and NOT.

Truncation indicator: Asterisk (*), may be used inside parentheses (e.g., "amniotic flud*")

Notes. Related words and equivalent subjects are calculated by the CINAHL database. MEDLINE refers to the indexed subset in PubMed.



This National Library of Medicine database is indexed using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) (their thesaurus) which is updated annually. The full MeSH database is available online. PubMed  automatically maps concepts entered into the search box onto MeSH ... sometimes more successfully than at other times. Author keywords are included in the database, but not mapped; [all fields], [ot], and [tw] are fields that will access author keywords

Searching tips

  • Always check the Search Details box on the right side navigation bar to see how PubMed applied the Boolean terms and mapped the search concepts; You can delete unneeded terms and rearrange parentheses right in the Search Details box
  • "Phrase searching"
    • Turns off automatic term mapping for that phrase; Use sparingly
    • A phrase that contains a stopword will not be found (will be stopped) - even if that phrase exists
    • Only MeSH terms that exactly match the quoted phrase will be found

Advanced search

  • Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT
  • Proximity indicators: None
  • Advanced Search Builder: Includes additional searchable fields
  • Stopwords: Yes - see: Stopwords
  • History: Combine and manage search strategies

Gale Academic OneFile

Gale Academic OneFile

This database does not have a separate online Thesaurus, so it is necessary to use the Subject Guide search to locate specific subject. To search by a subject is a two step process:

  • Begin by entering a few letters of your search term, then click on the appropriate subject from the drop-down menu
  • Select the main subject term or one of the subdivisions by clicking on it

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT

NOTE: Only in the Subject Guide Search and the Publication Search will the auto-fill drop-down menu identify actual subjects and publications. Entering terms in the main search box provides terms others have tried.

OmniFile Full Text Mega


Hosted by EBSCO, the Thesaurus is in the upper right corner.

Search tips

  • Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT
  • Phase searching
  • Advanced Search options
    • Use related words: Uses keywords related to the search term
    • Also search within the full text of the articles: Expands search to include article texts
    • Apply equivalent subjects: Similar to "See aso" in other thesauri 
  • Field codes: Two letter terms; available from the drop-down menu
  • Proximity indicators: None
  • Search History: Click to show or hide; Use to combine and manage search strategies


ProQuest PsycINFO

ProQuest hosts this database which is indexed using the 11th edition (2007) of the American Psychological Association's Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms® and includes the updated terms for 2015. The Thesaurus is available online under Advanced Search and can be used to locate and combine terms using Boolean operators. Additionally, by using Subject heading (all) - SU from the drop-down menu, Look up Subjects accesses individual terms from the Thesaurus.

Searching tips

  • Boolean terms: AND, OR, NOT
  • Proximity indicators: NEAR/#, n/# (number required); PRE, PRE/#, p/# (default of 4 words)
  • Processing order: NEAR, PRE, AND, OR, NOT.
  • Additional search options: EXACT, .e; Hyphen (-)
  • Wildcards; Asterisk (*) used at the end or middle of a word; Question mark (?)