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Searching Tips & Tutorials

General tips to better search results.

What to look for

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

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 Adam Smith 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.

  • 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.

Need help understanding fields  Ask Us, call us at 401-337-6212, or stop by the Research Help Desk in the Information Commons.

Example of fields

The record belows shows the field names on the left: Author, Title, Source, Standard No., Details, Language, Abstract, Descriptor

Goucher College Library, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Baltimore, MD 21204 • 410-337-6360 • © 2013-2017 • Creative Commons License
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