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Research Tips: Field


Databases separate information into fields.

You can tell the database where to search for a certain word. Telling the database to search in one specific area for a word or words is called field searching.

Common database fields include:

  • Author
  • Article Title
  • Abstract
  • Journal Title
  • Subject Headings

Narrow the Search: Select a specific field on the record

You can tell the database where to search for a certain word in the database record.  This will narrow your search! 

  • If you don't select a specific field, most databases automatically search the Title, Abstract, & Subject Heading fields. If you are not sure what the default search is in a specific database, check the database's HELP page.
  • Usually the field options are located in a drop-down menu next to the individual search boxes. Go to the Advanced Search screen if you do not see the boxes. 


Broaden the Search: Use the Full Text Field Option

Some databases contain full text articles/dissertations and offer the option to search within the PDFs as well as the database record.

  • Why is this useful? Database records do not always contain enough information so you may miss relevant articles. This is a way to obtain these articles in your search results. 
  • Especially useful for very specific search terms (names of research instruments, theories, etc.)
  • This option is available in CINAHL, Medline (EBSCO), Academic Search Premiere, ProQuest Dissertations)


  • Not all the records include the full text so you are not searching everything in the database with this option!
  • This could potentially "blow up" your search results especially if you are searching common words/phrases!