Finding scientific information: Focusing a search on search fields

Focusing a search on search fields

A database is a collection of records in which information about each document is stored. Each record is composed of fields containing specific piece of that information. The fields, their names and searchability are database specific.  When you are searching, consider where your terms might be found. A search can be narrowed down by focusing it on the different fields of the record.

Common fields to focus a search on are:

  • Article title
  • Abstract
  • Key words
  • Full text

Often databases provide a default combination of for example title, abstract and keyword fields. You can choose the search field on drop down menu or use field codes in command search.


An example of a record. You can open the record by clicking the title in the search result list. When you are searching information about a specific topic, the relevant fields are usually the title, abstract and the keywords. Which fields in this example contain the word glycerolScopus 27.7.2018

Focusing a search on the title

You might find it useful to restrict your search to only the title field

  • If you need to find a specific article
  • If you want to test if your search string or search term works the way you intended. The search term hits are easily visible on the result list
  • If you want to find only references in which your search term is centrally important


You can focus your search on specific fields also in Google Scholar.

Full text search

In full text databases it is possible to search from the full contents of the books, articles and other documents. It is worth using a full text search for example when:

  • The topic is very well defined
  • Looking for factual information
  • It is otherwise difficult to find information on the topic


In this eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) -database the words motivation and learning have been searched from the database default search fileds (tite, abstract, keywords) and the search word storytelling (also story telling) from all text fields. The searh result is books about learning motivation where storytelling has been mentioned at least once. The database also provides a list of pages where the search terms appear more often (Most relevant pages). EBSCOhost 15.8.2018