Answered By: Susan Steele
Last Updated: Dec 06, 2016     Views: 215

Each record in a database describes a document (a journal article, book, etc.) and is constructed of fields (author, title, abstract, subject terms, etc.). Limiting some or all of your search terms to relevant fields helps you find good results more quickly.

Relevance usually improves when you specify the Subject Terms (or Descriptors) field, assuming your words match subject terms used in that database. Placenames can be tricky, so it helps to specify a Geographic Terms field if provided. Standard fields such as publication type, document type, date, etc., usually can be selected as limiters on either the search form or the results list screen.

Shows subject term and geographic term field limiters in Academic Search Complete along with limiters for peer-reviewed, document type "article," and language "English"

Databases that focus on a particular discipline often have special limiters appropriate to that subject. ERIC includes limiters for educational level, for example. Business Source Complete has limiters for industrial codesPsycINFO has limiters for age and population groups.

Usually limiters narrow your results. If you're not finding enough, however, broaden results by looking for some of your search terms in the all text or full text field.

Shows search terms to be found in the "all text" field