Keyword searching is also sometimes referred to as free-text or natural language searching. When you enter a keyword into this search option it looks across the whole record, matches the word or term you have entered, and gives you a list of results.

It can be a good way to begin your research particularly if it is not a topic you are familiar with. However, you will often get a lot of material that is of little use to you. It is not very precise and you can spend a lot of time sorting through this material to locate the resources you can really use.

You use keyword searching when you enter a term into Google, or another search engine. Now, you understand why you get such massive "hits", that often seem confusing and not really what you are looking for.


Controlled language searching occurs when you use the terms that have come from an agreed list, such as those you would find in a thesaurus. This type of searching is more precise and will only return a list that should be more accurate and relevant to your needs. The Mary MacKillop Library uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the material entered onto our catalogue.

When searching on the Internet always check on the sites you are in to see if they have an online thesaurus that you can use to achieve more precise results when you search.