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Information Literacy Tutorial

Our Library's tutorial covers: research skills, critical thinking and information literacy.

Fields


Until now, we have been searching by topic or keywords. When a database searches for keywords, it searches the entire full text of its contents.

  • If you use a basic search box to search for a particular author, the database will return results for all items written by that author, but also all results written about that author.
  • If you use a basic search box to search for a particular journal, the database will return results for all items published in that journal, but also all results for items written about that journal. For example, you might find news articles about a merger or a change of editor for that journal.
  • If you use a basic search box to search for a specific article or book title, the database will return that title, but also all results written about that title. For example, you might find book reviews, or articles that cite the article you want in their own reference list.

The solution to this problem is to use the Advanced Search features available in all databases to search specific fields, instead of searching the entire text.

A field search directs the database to search for the words that you have entered, but only with relation to a specific category or "field". For example, Hemingway, Ernest in the author field will only search for works by him, not for anything about him.

Field Searching


The most popular fields are author and subject (or subject terms/headings). Field searches can be done on any database.  Below is an example of how to do a field search when searching the NCC Library's resources. 

Subject Headings


Subject headings (sometimes called subject terms or descriptors), are standardized terms that describe and organize items in databases. You can use these terms to find material on the same topic regardless of the words used in the text.

There are a couple of different ways to find subject headings:

  • Do a keyword search, browse the results, find the most relevant articles and find the subject headings in the article (it is usually located near the abstract).
  • Browse the database's thesaurus.  It may tell you:
    • Subject heading definitions
    • Year the subject heading was added to the thesaurus
    • List of subheadings for that subject heading
    • Related terms
    • Hierarchy with broader and narrower subject headings (good way to find other possible search terms)
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