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Nursing Reference Center - Browsing the Thesaurus

If enabled by your Nursing Reference Center (NRC) administrator, you can browse a list of subject headings (thesaurus) within a specific database. You can then select these subject headings for inclusion in an NRC search.

To browse a thesaurus:

  1. From the Advanced Searched screen, click the applicable database component link in the Browse box. NRC displays a new database-thesaurus Browse Screen. 

    The thesaurus name (e.g., MeSH – the National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus, CINAHL Headings, etc.) appears on the tab above the Browse for field. 

  2. Enter your search terms in the Browse for box.

     browsing within a thesaurus

  3. Select from the Term Begins With, Term Contains, or Relevancy Ranked radio buttons and then click Browse. NRC displays a list of subject headings associated with your search terms.

    thesaurus browse list

  4. Locate the subject headings that you want to use and then click the checkbox located to the left of each item to select it for the search.

    Note: If a heading is not found for your search terms, the terms are displayed at the bottom of the list. You can click to select the check box to the left of the key words to include your terms as a keyword search.)

  5. Use the Combine selections with dropdown list box options to combine your selections with AND, OR, or NOT if needed.

  6. Click the Search Database button. NRC displays a Result List.

Using the Thesaurus Browse Options

Term Begins With

If you browse the MeSH thesaurus and enter “acids” in the Browse for field and select Term Begins With, the list displays the terms in alphabetical order:

Acids
Acids, 2,5-Dihydroxybenzoic Use: Gentisates
Acids, 2-Butenoic Use: Crotonic Acids
Acids, 4-Hydroxybenzoic Use: Parabens
Acids, Acetic Use: Acetic Acids
Acids, Acyclic

Term Contains

If you browse the MeSH thesaurus and enter “acids” in the Browse for field and select Term Contains, the term searched for appears first followed by a list of terms displayed in alphabetical order:

Acids
2 Butenoic Acids Use: Crotonic Acids
2,5 Dihydroxybenzoic Acids Use: Gentisates
2,5-Dihydroxybenzoic Acids Use: Gentisates
2-Butenoic Acids Use: Crotonic Acids
4 Hydroxybenzoic Acids Use: Parabens
4-Hydroxybenzoic Acids Use: Parabens

Relevancy Ranked

If you browse the MeSH thesaurus and enter “acids” in the Browse for field and selected Relevancy Ranked, the exact match for the term appears first followed by a list of terms displayed in order of relevance.

Acids
Alpha-Linolenic Acid
Amino Acid Transport Systems, Acidic
Aspartic Acid
Deoxycholic Acid
Linolenic Acid
...

Scope Notes

Clicking the Scope link opens a pop-up window displaying the Subheading name and Scope Note.

Using Explode and Major Concept

Explode

When you Explode a term, you create a search query that “explodes” the subject heading. The headings are exploded to retrieve all references indexed to that term as well as all references indexed to any narrower terms.

In a database with a tree, such as MeSH or CINAHL Headings, exploding retrieves all documents containing any of the terms below the term you selected in the tree. In a thesaurus, exploding retrieves all documents containing the selected term, as well as any of its first level of narrower terms. If a plus sign (+) appears next to a narrower or related term, there are narrower terms below it.

Major Concept

When you select Major Concept for a term, you create a search query that finds only records for which the subject heading is a major point of the article. Searches are limited with specific qualifiers (subheadings) to improve the precision of the search, and limited to major subject headings to indicate the main concept of an article.

Combining Explode and Major Concept

If you select Explode and Major Concept, you retrieve all references indexed to your term (and its narrower terms) and all articles for which the subject heading is a major point of the article.