Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017     Views: 5819

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

"Fields" are the various pieces of information that library databases (like Summon, EBSCO, ProQuest, etc.) keep for each item that they search. For every article or book, things like title, author, subject terms, abstract, date, etc. are recorded in their own field.  Each time you search for a keyword, the database looks for it in the fields.

In a typical basic search, all fields for all items are searched at the same time.  But most databases will allow you to search the fields individually. This is helpful when

  • 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 Summon's advanced search:

screenshot of Summon advanced search options

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