Many databases offer basic search (e.g. Basic Search, Quick Search) as the first option, searching from all fields or selected fields of a record. This search may give good results in case of a very narrow subject, but usually, the number of hits is very large and contains irrelevant results. Here, we can use Boolean logical operators, proximity operators and truncation.
The database Help gives information about the fields used in basic search.
For instance, the Basic Search of the EBSCO database Academic Search Complete retrieves information from the following fields: author, subject heading, key word, title (including the title of the source) and abstract.
More specific Advanced Search enables to specify the field for the search expression. This search should be used, for instance, in cases when you
- wish to find the works of a certain author;
- wish to find articles from a certain journal;
- wish that the search expression(s) can be found in, e.g., the title or abstract of a certain journal;
- wish to find articles in a certain language.
Advanced search fields may differ in different databases. Many databases provide a dropdown menu for choosing different search fields and inserting search words.
Search fields can be combined with operators AND, OR, NOT.
In addition to the search by selected fields, databases quite often offer Command Search, where field codes are used.
Searches in full text databases can be extended so as to enable searching from full texts.