What versus Where

So far we have been considering only WHAT words to search for and how to construct a useful, meaningful search using different signs and symbols. But you should also consider WHERE to search.

When you enter your search terms the database will trawl through everything in an item record to see if it can find your terms. But, unless you are specifically looking for this, how useful is it to find your terms only mentioned in a footnote of an article?

Generally you are trying to find a substantive article on your topic. So consider how relevant and useful the results will be if you search just the title of an article as opposed to the full-text of any record. Surely if your terms appear in the title of an article then you can guarantee that the article is highly relevant.

But sometimes titles can be misleading, or make a play on words, or you may have constructed quite a sophisticated search so that all of your terms do not appear in the title. One useful part of an article to search, and this is particularly the case in academic databases or academic journals, is what is known as the ABSTRACT.

The abstract is a short summary of what the main article is about. So if your search terms appear here it is highly likely the article is relevant, and this search may pick up other articles where the words are not in the title.

Look at the drop down options in JSTOR (where it says 'full-text') and in Proquest (where it says 'anywhere') and see the choices these databases give in terms of deciding where to look for your search terms.

JSTOR Advanced search:

PROQUEST Advanced search:

Last modified: Friday, 11 September 2015, 9:55 AM