Bibliographic records/citations in library databases are comprised of fields containing specific pieces of bibliographic information. Common fields include:
date/ year of publication
Limiting your search to specific database fields can yield more precise results.
For instance, if you are looking for books by Hannah Arendt instead of about her, it is more efficient to limit your search to the author field.
To find various fields within a database, look for drop down boxes or menus to select the field you want to search.
Then combine words and fields together with boolean operators, depending on how precise you want to be. See this example from the Web of Science database.
If you do not choose a specific field, the database usually reverts to a keyword search, where your words will be searched throughout the bibliographic data of the article or the book.
If your keyword search retrieves too many records, try narrowing your search to retrieve a more manageable result.
Information overload - too many results - can be a worse situation than finding only 10 very relevant results.
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The record belows shows the field names on the left: Authors, Source, Document type, Subject Terms, Author-Supplied keywords, NAICS/Industry codes, Abstract.