The Resourceful Student: Refining Your Search
When you perform keyword searches in databases, you typically retrieve a broad range of materials with varying degrees of relevance to your topic. In the last article, we talked about increasing search precision by using subject headings; this week, we will focus on narrowing your search by choosing a SPECIFIC FIELD to search in or by restricting your search through the use of “LIMITERS”.
Check out the journal article databases you are using to see what options they provide. Most databases allow you to limit the scope of your search to only one segment (or “field”) of the article citation, such as:
- journal title
Most database search engines also include such limiters as:
- publication type (i.e. peer reviewed)
- publication date
- geographical area
When using SUBJECT-SPECIFIC DATABASES, look for limiters that pertain to the specific discipline. For instance,
- ‘PsycINFO’ and ‘Medline’ allow researchers to limit searches by research methodology;
- The Education database ‘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 allow you to narrow your searches and find relevant resources much faster and with greater precision. Take a moment to see what your options are, begin your search fairly broadly and then use appropriate limiters as required.
Oh yeah, and don’t touch that “limit to full-text only” button – you’ll lose access to a huge amount of great information that is available to you in other databases or in print in your library.
Want more information? Ask at the Information & Research Assistance Desk.