Search Fields

In databases, the individual records (see Library Terminology: Record) that describe the contents of a publication are comprised of fields. Information on the topic of the publication as well as where and when it was published is recorded in the databases. Some familiar examples of the record’s fields are publication title, keywords, abstract, authors, and date of publication.

The most specific results are found in the title and index term fields

The most specific results are attained by searching for the Title and Index Term fields with a relevant query. Both fields include words that are also relevant to the main content of the publication. It should be noted that not all publications, for example the most recent, may have not been described by index terms.

Focusing the search terms on these fields is particularly useful in the case that the search otherwise provides numerous or irrelevant results. However, it is also possible that some useful publications will not be found if the fields are limited so strictly. Different limiting options are usually worth trying when aiming for finding the settings that best suit each search question and topic; for example, limiting the search to the title field can sometimes be too narrow.  

Any words that describe the topic may be used as search terms.  It is possible to focus the search with the use of index terms.

Limiting to index terms / index term search focuses the search, often improving its relevance and pertinence, but also reducing the amount of matches.

Searching in abstracts may require you to outline the search

A word featured in the abstract can be relevant for the entirety of the contents but may not always have any relevance at all. Much depends on the topic of the search. Finding relevant publications can require multiple search-specific keywords. On the other hand, sometimes the search catches a good publication’s abstract with one specific keyword. 

Full-text search is recommended for rarer topics

Searching from full-text and all the publication’s information is useful at least when the topic (and terms) of the search is rare. If a rare search term does not find material in a search limited to title and keyword fields, you can try extending the same search to full text.

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