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Sociological Abstracts: Searchable Fields

A guide to all aspects of Sociological Abstracts including content, searching, and viewing results on the new ProQuest platform.


A thesaurus provides a standard language or set of terms with which to describe a subject area. Applied to indexing of a database, it indicates to a searcher which terms to use to retrieve the maximum number of relevant documents.

The thesaurus terms are used by indexers to describe the contents of publications in a consistent, comprehensive and concise manner. These terms are listed in the Subject field (SU) of each record added to the database.

Using our interactive Thesaurus Search you can browse for terms via a hierarchical, alphabetical, or search words within a concept. These display formats allow you to navigate the thesaurus alphabetically or through the hierarchical relationships between terms. After finding appropriate terms, you can submit a search for those terms in the database descriptor field.


The Thesaurus of Sociological Indexing Terms contains an alphabetical listing of Main Term descriptors used for indexing and searching the Sociological Abstracts database and printed index, beginning with the April 1986 issue. It also references discontinued terms from the former Descriptor Authority File, which are used for accessing information prior to 1986. Associated term relationships are displayed under each Main Term. These may include a Descriptor Code, Scope Note, History Note, Use For and Use references, Broader Terms and Narrower Terms, and Related Terms. Each of these elements of the Thesaurus display is explained below.

Main Terms

Nouns and noun phrases are preferred for Main Terms, with plural word forms used with nouns that can be quantified (Institutions, Values, Workers) and singular word forms used with nouns representing processes, properties, and conditions (Employment, Migration, Validity). The gerund or verbal noun is also used with process terms (Data Processing, Marketing).

Main Term descriptors are limited to 60 characters. Punctuation is used minimally. Hyphens are used where needed for clarity. In cases where ambiguity may occur, and to distinguish the meaning of homographs, Main Terms and Use reference terms appear with qualifying expressions in parentheses.

Authoritarianism (Political Ideology)
Authoritarianism (Psychology)
Repression (Defense Mechanism)
Repression (Political)

Descriptor Codes

Descriptor Codes are seven-character, alphanumeric authority numbers for Thesaurus terms. New Descriptor Codes have been assigned to all Main Terms. These are distinguished from former Descriptor Codes by the "D" prefix. Since a Descriptor Code is a unique number representing a specific Main Term, it may be used in online searching as an alternative to specifying the Main Term itself.

Community OrganizationsD155100

Scope Notes

Scope Notes are brief statements of the intended meaning or usage of a Main Term. They may provide definitions, user instructions, or both.


Residential Mobility

Movement from residence to residence within the same community or geographical area. Do not confuse with Geographic Mobility.

History Notes

History Notes link Thesaurus descriptors with the Descriptor Authority File terms used in indexing prior to 1986. They are the key to searching the printed indexes and the online databases from 1963 through 1985. History Notes provide the range of years in which a term was in use, its former Descriptor Code, and the word form if it has changed. Often they provide search instructions. History Notes appear for both Main Terms and discontinued terms. History Notes are standardized according to the disposition of or action taken on the former Descriptor Authority File term.


Formerly (1963-1985) DC 383175.

This term was used in indexing between 1963 and 1985 and was retained in the Thesaurus in its exact form. The History Note references the former Descriptor Code assigned to the term.

Many discontinued terms appear with "Use Terms" notes pointing to Thesaurus descriptors that are closely related to the concept represented by the discontinued term. This type of History Note is used when two or more descriptors are referenced.

Fairness (1984-1985)

DC 171147

Use For

Terms referenced by the”Use term for” designation are non-preferred terms. They include synonyms and variants of the Main Term and specific terms indexed under a more generic descriptor. Often they include discontinued terms from the Descriptor Authority File; these appear with a qualifying range of years indicating their period of active use in indexing. For every “Use term for”, a reciprocal Use reference is generated, pointing to the preferred Main Term.

Academic Achievement

Use For

Academic Performance
Educational Achievement
Scholastic Achievement
School Performance
Student Achievement

Broader Terms & Narrower Terms

Broader Terms indicate the more general class or classes to which the Main Term logically belongs. Narrower Terms indicate the more specific sub-classes of the Main Term. The Broader Term/Narrower Term relationship is reciprocal: for every Broader Term reference there is a corresponding reciprocal Narrower Term reference.


Broader Terms


Narrower Terms Communes

Broader Term/Narrower Term relationships create thesaurus hierarchies, i.e., sequences of class relationships that may extend upward more generally or downward more specifically through several levels. At any point in the hierarchy, Broader Term/Narrower Term designations refer upward or downward only to the next most general or specific level. However, by tracing these references, a complete hierarchy or "family tree" can be approximated.

Related Terms

Terms referenced by the Related Term designation bear a close conceptual relationship to the Main Term, but they do not share the direct class/sub-class relationship described by the Broader Term/Narrower Term relationship. Related Terms are always entered reciprocally. They should be considered for use as other appropriate search terms.

Class Politics

Related Terms
Class Relations
Labor Relations
Social Class
Worker Consciousness
Working Class

Searchable Fields

Field Name


Search Examples & Explanation




AB(child welfare worker)

We use the journal-provided abstract with little or no modification, or have members from our editorial team write an abstract from scratch, drawing on the article’s text and concepts. Our team’s goal is to make the article’s point as clearly and succinctly as possible.

Accession Number



Search the unique number for articles and documents

All Fields


ALL(school drop out)

Search for keywords in the citation and abstract.




AU(Wacquant, Loic )

Use to find documents written by a particular author. 

Author Affiliation


AF(Glasgow Caledonian)

Use this field to retrieve documents associated to a particular insitution

Cited Author



Users can search for a cited author in Cited References from any search form.

Cited Document Title


CTI("Migration and social change")

Users can search for document titles cited in Cited References from any search form.

Cited Publication Date



Users can search for publication dates that have been cited in Cited References from any search form.

Cited Publication Title


CPUB(“Modern China”)

Users can search for publication title that has been cited in the Cited References from any search form.

Classification Codes



CC (sociology: History and Theory)

Classification Codes indicate a broad subject area and represent the major focus of the article. Sociological Abstracts identifies 29 broad areas of sociology and includes 95 specific sub-headings. The classification codes can be searched by numeric code or word.

For a full list of Classification code click here





Use the six character, alphanumeric bibliographic code, that provides concise, unique and unambiguous identification of the titles of serials and non-serial publications from all subject areas.



CF(Association for the Sociology of Religion, 1980)

Use to retrieve papers from a specific conference

Conference Title


CFTI(Toward a Sociology of Meaning)

Use this field if you know the title of the conference.

Country of publication



Use to retrieve papers published in a specific country.

Digital Object Identifiers



Search for documents with Digital Object Identifier
For more information on DOI go to 

Dissertations Number



Use to search dissertations indexed in Sociological Abstracts. Use left handside truncation if you happen to know the Dissertation number from ProQuest dissertations & Thesis.

Document Title


TI(Life-Satisfaction in Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine)

Locates the occurrence of search words in the title of the article.

Document type



Use to retrieve a specific type of document within a publication. This field is also a limit in Sociological Abstracts.

Identifiers (keywords)


IF(addiction without drugs)

The Identifiers field has been used since 1998 to provide vocabulary that is not accessible through the controlled terminology of the Thesaurus. The natural language terms found in the Identifiers field reflects new or developing concepts in sociology that are not yet added to the Thesaurus. Prior to 1998, the Identifiers field was used to provide an "abstract of the abstract," and listed the dependent and independent variables under investigation, population, methodology, and geographic location of study

International Standard Book Number



This search field looks for the 12 and 13 digit International Standard    Book Number (ISBN), where available. Hyphens are optional

International Standard Serials Number




This search field looks for the eight digit International Standard      Serials Number (ISSN), where available. Hyphens are optional




Use to specific documents in a specific language. This field is also a limit in Sociological Abstracts

Original Title


OTI(Organizaciones y Problemas Sociales. Una aproximacion sistemica)

Use this to search the title of a document which is not in English. The English translation will be displayed in the Document title field.

Publication Title


PUB(journal of family violence)

Used to search by a specific publication or publications. You can use the index to browse the list of publication included in Sociological Abstracts

Publication Year



Used to search documents published in a specific year.



PB(Society for Applied Sociology)

Used to retrieve documents from a specific publisher

Publisher Location



Use to retrieve publishers located in a specific country. This information will display in the publisher field in the full record.



REF(Bourdieu NEAR Reproduction in education)

Use the reference search field to look for articles which cite a specific article, author, journal. It will search all components of a cited reference (cited author, cited publication, cited title or cited year)

Resource Location



This information will display in the field called URL

Reviewed Work


RV("the woman question in classical sociological theory")

Use to identify Review of a particular piece. This information will display in the Related Work field in the full record.

Source Type



Use to extract particular type of document.
This field is also a limit in Sociological Abstracts

Subject Heading(All)


SU(family structure)

Use this to search controlled vocabulary from the Sociological Abstracts thesaurus. For more information on the Sociological Abstract Thesaurus see the box on the left. Terms searched will also be searching Classification and Identifiers




Used to search for Tags attached to articles. This field is user generated.




Use to retrieve all records added during a specific database update. The structure of the field is YYYY-MM-DD



Look Ups and Browsable Indexes

Sociological Abstracts offers six Look ups or browsable indexes, so you can easily find spelling or format variations of, for example, an author's name or a journal title. You can find the Look up links in the advanced search page and they are available for the following searchable fields: author, publication, subjectclassification code, country of publication and publisher location. For a description of these fields, please see the searchable fields table to the right. 

Note: Look ups are also available from the Command Line search (through the Look up terms link).

To use and locate a Look up or browsable index, select the field from the advanced search pull-down menu. If a Look up is available, under the search row you will see a link to theLook up. Other Look ups and browsable indexes will be listed in the Limit To section of the advanced search page.

Select the Look up link and then you will see a browsable and alphabetical index for that field. There are some indexes that will not display an alphabetical list before searching for the term, rather you will have to enter a term first, and then the alphabetical list of matches will display.

Once you locate the index term that you would like to add to your search, mark the item, and then click the Add to search button. The index term will now appear in the advanced search form along with the appropriate pull-down menu selection.