|Pre-defined, higher order terminology
|Natural (conversational language)
|Only searches the subject or descriptor field in a database record
Searches all fields in a database record including title, abstract, text, etc.
|Results usually relevant to your topic
|Results may or may not be relevant to your topic
|Narrows your search providing fewer results
|Broadens your search providing more results
|Less flexible - searches only available, pre-defined subject headings
Flexible - searches newer or distinctive terms and
Controlled vocabulary is a standardized, pre-defined set of terms used by a database to describe and categorize articles or sources of information based on content. Controlled vocabulary can also be referred to as Subjects, Subject Headings, Subject Terms, Descriptors, Thesaurus, or Index terms. The table on this page outlines the difference between using 'Controlled Vocabulary' and 'Keywords'.
Each database handles controlled vocabulary differently including the terminology.The following video explains the meaning and functionality of controlled vocabulary.
The content of the section on controlled vocabularly were copied, with permission, of Marjorie Leta of the Mesa Community College