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Research Skills Tutorial

Advanced Search Features

Until now, we have been searching by topic or keywords. When a database searches for keywords, it searches the entire full text of its contents.

  • If you use a basic search box to search for a particular author, the database will return results for all items written by that author, but also all results written about that author.
  • If you use a basic search box to search for a particular journal, the database will return results for all items published in that journal, but also all results for items written about that journal. For example, you might find news articles about a merger or a change of editor for that journal.
  • If you use a basic search box to search for a specific article or book title, the database will return that title, but also all results written about that title. For example, you might find book reviews, or articles that cite the article you want in their own reference list.

The solution to this problem is to use the Advanced Search features available in all databases to search specific fields, instead of searching the entire text. This is called field searching.

Advanced Search

To utilize additional search features, select Advanced Search, located to the right of the search box




This brings up a detailed interface where you choose specific fields to search and limit by material types and dates. You can create boolean searches and string together multiple search terms. 


You can also add more search boxes, should you need them, by clicking the  "+ Add a New Line" option.

Advanced Search Fields

Descriptions of what each field searches follow:

  • Any Field is the default option. This searches all the available details of each indexed the information source.
  • Title is the Article title, not the Journal title. Searches for items that use your inputs in its title.
  • Author/Creator. Searches for items written by this person.
  • Subject. These are terms the database recognizes as official keywords for a particular topic.
  • ISBN is the unique identifying number assigned to every book. Be aware that each edition of a book has its own ISBN.
  • ISSN is the unique identifying number assigned to every magazine and journal. Be aware that if the journal changes its title (which happens sometimes) it gets a new ISSN.

Between the search boxes there are Boolean operator menus. These menus default to the AND operator, but you could use the menus to choose the OR or NOT operators. You could also use any of the six Boolean operators, including parentheses, quotation marks and truncation*, in the search boxes, as you would in a basic search.

Search String Type

You can further specify the search string by updating the search type to :

  • Contains which retrieves records that contain all your keywords in a phrase, but the words may be in a different order and may not be close together.
  • Is (Exact) focuses your search for an exact phrase.
  • Starts with retrieves records that contain the keywords that start the specified search line


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