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Cataloging: Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in Cataloging

Module 4—Use of Topical Qualifiers (Subheadings)

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Allowable Qualifiers

  • Not every qualifier is permitted for use with every subject heading
  • The tree categories are a general guide to which descriptors are permitted with the qualifier
  • A list of qualifiers by allowable category is available here
  • However, there are many exceptions, so the cataloger should always check the AQ (allowable qualifier) list found in each descriptor record in the MeSH browser
  • Geographic terms from the Z tree have only two possible qualifiers:
    • epidemiology
    • ethnology
  • Subheadings are never used with names or publication types
  • Annotations in the MeSH browser record may provide guidance on when and how to use certain subheadings. These are guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules
  • Also check the Entry Combination field in the MeSH browser record for the descriptor to see if there is a pre-coordinated term for the concept

Annotation and Entry Combination Example

Screen capture of MeSH Browser showing heading record for Vitamin A with a red arrow pointing to Annotation and another red arrow pointing to Entry Combination.



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