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Alabama Virtual Library Overview: Fields

Technique 4: Fields

All materials in AVL databases have a record that is made up of various "fields". The fields taken together are how a database indexes an item and are another way, in addition to keywords and words taken from the full text of a material, the database retrieves results based on your search terms. The last section discussed subject terms as a particularly powerful way of retrieving precise results. Subject terms are one of many fields, all of which are searchable, that can help you refine a search to find relevant materials.

EBSCO Field Selection

Gale Field Selection

Most databases include, but are not limited to, the following fields:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Subject
  • Publication name
  • Keyword (the default if no other field is selected)
  • All text
  • Publisher

Using fields is helpful for cutting through irrelevant results when you are trying to find materials based on specific information you know applies to your search. For instance, if you are trying to find an article by, not about, Dr. Anthony Fauci, you can input his name into the search box and tell the database to search only for records that were written by him by selecting the "Author" field. Searching for Dr. Fauci's name without specifying a field (i.e. a keyword search) will call up results by, about, and even just mentioning his name. This may be an overwhelming number of records and make it harder to find relevant materials.