Library Database- Refining Your Search
Library Database- Refining Your Search

February 1, 2007


When researchers do keyword searches in databases, they typically retrieve a broad range of materials with varying degrees of relevance to their topic.

Fortunately, you can narrow the focus of your search by choosing a specific field to search in or by restricting your search through the use of “limiters.”

Field searches limit the scope of your search to only one segment of the article citation, such as:

• author
• title
• journal title

Most database search engines include such limiters as:

• publication type (e.g. peer reviewed)
• publication date
• language
• geographical area

When using subject-specific databases, look for limiters that pertain to the specific discipline.

PsycINFO and Medline allow researchers to limit searches by research methodology, while ERIC has the option of searching for resources for a specific educational level.

ABI/INFORM has searchable fields for company and product names, and MLA allows researchers to limit searches by genre or literary technique.

Field searches and the use of limiters can allow researchers to narrow their searches and find relevant resources much faster and with greater precision.   
For additional information, please contact your subject liaison librarian or ask at the Information Services Desk.

Library Databases is a monthly feature by Librarian Judy Vogt. Please e-mail your story suggestions to Vogt at

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