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LS220 Research Methods: Subject Authority Schemes

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

LC Subject Headings makes research much more efficient and effective..

LCSH is a standardized, controlled vocabulary used in most library catalogs.  These terms are used in the Subject metadata field in all of the resource records.  The use of these normalized subjects makes it possible for the researcher (you) to find resources on the same topic even though authors, scholars and even you might use any number of other words for the same idea.

Search the Library of Congress Subject Headings to obtain more accurate as well as additional terminology to assist in finding more resources.  LCSH will identify variant terms, narrower terms and/or broader terms, which can be used to either further your search or refine your search queries.

Search the "stress factor" being used to discover possible alternative terminology by which to focus or expand your search.  For example a search for the stress factor hearing will retrieve a four page list of subject headings related to this topic. 

  A quick scan reveals the first LC Subject Heading on the list is most likely the one needed. 

Selecting this Subject Heading reveals a number of Variants, Broader Terms, Narrower Terms and Related Terms some of which may be particularly useful for research related to the effects of music on physical response time.


Notice also Matching Concepts from Other Schemes 


Last updated February, 2019

MeSH: Medical Subject Headings

MeSH is the curated medical vocabulary for the National Library of Medicine providing a hierarchically-organized terminology for indexing and cataloging of biomedical information.  It is used in MEDLINE/PUBmed and other NLM databases.

To search the National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings go to <>


Search a topic to obtain Details, Qualifiers MeSH Tree Stuctures and Concepts related to the term as used by NLM.

For example a search for Cell Cycles reveals these important Details about the topic:

Additional related terminology can be found under Qualifiers

The MeSH Tree Structures is very helpful for understanding the topic within its broader context as well as its own subdivisions.  A great resource for broadening or further focusing your research.

The Concepts section indicates which term is Preferred.

Last updated July, 2018.

NAL Agricultural Thesaurus

USDA National Agricultural LIbrary has its own Thesaurus whose terms are linked as matching terms in LCSH.

FAST Linked Data

Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) has been developed to meet the need for a general-use subject terminology, which is simple to learn, easy to navigate and compatible with LCSH.