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Database Searching Tips: Search Fields

This guide teaches you common search strategies that can be utilized within various databases to help you narrow down searches and find the most relevant resources.

What are Search Fields?

Records in library databases are comprised of fields containing specific pieces of bibliographic information. Common fields include:

  • author
  • title
  • journal title
  • abstract
  • publisher
  • date/year of publication
  • subject/descriptor

Record Fields

How Database Fields Improve Your Search

  • Limiting your search to specific database fields can yield more precise results.
  • For instance, if you are looking for books by Norman Geisler instead of about him, it is more efficient to limit your search to the author field.
  • To find various fields within a database, look for drop down boxes or menus to select the field you want to search.
  • Then combine words and fields together with boolean or proximity operators, depending on how precise you want to be.
Record Fields

 

  • If you do not choose a specific field, the database usually reverts to a keyword search, where your words will be searched throughout the record.
  • If your keyword search retrieves too many records (more than 50), try narrowing your search to retrieve a more manageable result.
  • Information overload - too many results - can be a worse situation than finding only 10 very relevant results.

More Examples

 

Example of Subject field search using a previously discovered EBSCO SUBJECT :

 

Record Fields

 

Example of finding all articles published by a specific author from a specific journal publication (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society):

 

Searching author and journal Image

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