Skip to Main Content
CEU Library, Central European University

Database Search Tips

What are fields?

Bibliographic records/citations in library databases are comprised of fields containing specific pieces of bibliographic information. Common fields include:

  • author

  • title

  • journal title

  • abstract

  • publisher

  • date/ year of publication

  • subject/ descriptor

How database fields improve your search

  • 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.

Need help understanding fields? Contact us!


Example of fields

The record belows shows the field names on the left: Authors, Source, Document type, Subject Terms, Author-Supplied keywords, NAICS/Industry codes, Abstract.



CEU Library, Budapest, Vienna
This website is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, unless otherwise noted.