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Advanced Research Strategies

Search Limiters

In addition to keywords, Boolean logic, search operators, and subject headings, you can also use search limiters after you search. Search Limiters may also be called filters or facets and are often found in the left or right margin of the search results screen after a search has been run.  They can be useful particularly if an initial search leads to a very large set of results.  Filters can be used to limit results by:

  • date of creation or publication
  • format
  • subject (heading)
  • language
  • location
  • and many other criteria, depending on the database.

Examples of search limiters/filters in two databases:

NUsearch Ebsco, Academic Search Complete
image shows example of NUsearch search filters on left margin of the search results screen, including limiters for date, format, subject and more. image is example of search filters in the left margin of search results screen, including date and other criteria.



Search Limiters may be applied before you run the search as well, and options vary by database or search engine. To see what limiters are available, check the Advanced Search page, or similar page, within a database.  

The image shows Google's advanced search, including limits for language, region, site or domain, and more.

Field Searching

In databases, the descriptive data included in each record is initially input into various fieldsField Searching is searching by specific fields such as Title, Keyword, Subject, Full Text, Abstract, Publication and Location. These fields also may correspond to the search filters mentioned previously on this page.  Like search filters, field searching can provide for a very focused or specific search.  Using the advanced search may be the best way to access and limit to various fields.  

The example below finds articles in the Proquest database International Bibliography of the Social Sciences. We are looking for articles in the journal Urban Science, about China as a geographic location, with climate change as a keyword term or topic.  

When searching in the "Full Text" field: the "Anywhere" field searches all fields, including any full text content that is in the database.  You can, however, choose to search Anywhere except full text, as shown below. Designating "except full text" would focus just on the other fields, and probably decrease the number of results you will get.

image is of the advanced search screen for a proquest database.  it shows how to limit the search fields to find articles published in a specific journal, urban science, that are about China and climate change.  limiting to the journal title field, the location field for china, and the keyword field for climate change, can produce the right search results.