Subject headings are a feature of library research tools intended to help you find information even if you don't know the right keywords to use.
Subject headings are an authorized list of concepts that an item can be "about". Experts analyze the content of a document (such as a book or journal article) and choose one or more subject headings that best reflect the content.
Subject headings behave very similarly to hashtags in social media. They show up in library search tools as links. You can click on them to execute a search for only items that received that subject heading.
There are two main ways of finding subject headings on your topic:
In this example, searching the Education Research Complete thesaurus for "restorative justice" showed that term is not used in the database. The subject heading "restorative school discipline" is used instead.
The fastest way to find relevant results in library databases is often:
For example, in our case study for restorative justice in California high schools, once we have identified "restorative school discipline" as a subject heading for the concept of restorative justice, we can combine that subject with keywords covering California and high schools.
Note how this advanced search uses the Boolean operator AND to limit the result set to only items matching all of these criteria.