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Subject Terms & Index Searches: Search the Index

Search the index or thesaurus

The EBSCO and ProQuest databases allow you to search their indexes if you are unsure how a name, title, or subject has been indexed. This can be very helpful to make sure that you are searching for the correct term.

Find the index

In the EBSCO databases, the indexes can be found in the toolbar above the search boxes. Look for the Indexes link.

Note: You may have to click the three line more icon in order to see the Indexes link.


In the ProQuest databases, the option to search the index will appear after you select an indexed field from the Anywhere drop-down menu.

For example, on the Advanced Search screen in the ProQuest Central database, once you change the Anywhere drop-down menu to Author - AU a Look up Authors link will appear near the drop-down menu.


Find the thesaurus

Subject indexes are often separate from the general database indexes and have unique names. For example:

  • Thesaurus
  • Topics
  • Subject Terms


Like the general database indexes, in the EBSCO databases, they are linked in the toolbar above the search boxes.


In the ProQuest databases, the Thesaurus is linked right above the search boxes.

Search the index or thesaurus

With both subject indexes and other database indexes, you have the option to browse through them to find the term you are looking for. Here is an example how to access and browse the subject Thesaurus in the PsycINFO database.

  1. Click on the Thesaurus link above the search boxes.

  2. In the Browsing: PsycINFO -- Thesaurus search box, enter the term you are hoping to find. For example, you could enter:

  3. Below the browsing box, you have the option to select Term Begins With, Term Contains, or Relevancy Ranked. If you are unsure what the actual subject term is, choosing Relevancy Ranked will allow the database to try and find the best matches for your term.

  4. That will give you a list of results. In this case, the subject index tells you that for Therapy you should use the term Treatment. You will also see a list of other possible subject terms.

  5. To learn more about a subject term, click directly on the hyperlinked subject term. This will take you to a page with a scope note, which gives a short definition of the term, in addition to narrower and broader subject terms.

  6. To search for all of the articles that have that specific subject term, click in the checkbox next to the subject term.

    Note: In the right column, you also have the options to Explode the term and search for it as a Major Concept. By clicking in the box under Explode, you are telling the database to search for the subject term as well as all of the narrower subject terms. By clicking Major Concept, you are telling the database to search for the subject term as one of the most important subjects of the article.
  7. Once you've selected the subject term, click on the Add button above the subject term.

  8. This will add the subject term to the search box at the top of the page. Click on the Search button to search the database for all items that have been assigned that subject term.

    Note: In the search box you will see DE "Treatment", this is the code that the database uses to indicate that this term should be searched for in the subject field.


To learn more about using EBSCO's Thesaurus feature, please see their website:


You can learn more about ProQuest's searchable fields on their website: