User search strategies are inevitably shaped by the ways information can be accessed; either searching for a known item where the author, title or other information is available or searching on a specific subject of interest. Users undertake such searches by:

  • Browsing subject indexes
  • Entering precise subject heading terms
  • Browsing via subject classifications

Subject access to online bibliographic databases is a complex process involving a number of components which must work together efficiently for successful subject retrieval i.e.:

  • The database application
  • Languages used for subject analysis
  • Local policy and practice
  • User input and responses
  • Hardware and software enabling users to interact with the system