Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Jun 05, 2023     Views: 19719

What is field searching?

Field searching lets you tell a database exactly where you want your keywords to be found.

"Fields" are pieces of information that library databases keep for each article, book, etc. that they search. For example, every article has its own title, author(s), subject terms, abstract, date, etc. -- and each of these pieces of information are recorded in their own field. 

In a typical basic database search, all fields (for all articles, books, etc.) are searched at the same time.  But most databases will allow you to search  fields individually. 

When is Field Searching helpful?

  • you're  looking for a specific author
  • you remember just a word or two of a title
  • you want to pinpoint a particular subject
  • you want articles that specifically mention your keywords in their abstract
  • and so on!


To find field search options, look for a drop-down menu next to the search box in any database.   If you don't see it on the basic search screen, look for an "advanced search" link.

Here is an example screenshot from Primo's advanced search:

Field search options in Primo's advanced search


Learn about field searching in two of our individual database platforms:


See also:


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