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Research Skills Tutorial

This is a self-paced, non-credit course that covers research skills, critical thinking, media and internet literacy, and understanding the complexities of the modern information environment (including libraries.)

Advanced Searching By Author and Title

Searching 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.

This process is covered in the video below. If you prefer, you may skip to the text discussion beneath it.

Advanced Search Features 

Screenshot 1: To access the Advanced Search features, select a database to search. Typically, you will find a link to Advanced Search located near the generic search box (highlighted in red below).

OneSearch search box with Advanced Search option highlighted

Screenshot 2: The Advanced Search screen displays numerous features for refining your search below the search box. At the top of the screen, you will see multiple search boxes, and next to each search box, you will see pull-down menus (those with a downward pointing triangle). On the right are some further limit options (date, language, etc.). You can also add more search boxes, should you need them, by clicking the  "+ Add a New Line" option.

OneSearch Advanced Search options

Screenshot 3: The Select a Field menus open to reveal options (highlighted in red below). Each option includes an abbreviation and a name to tell which field it searches. Note: Some databases will use different names for the fields displayed below, though most will be similar.

OneSearch advanced search with drop down field selector open.

Descriptions of what each field searches follow:

  • Any Field is the default option. This searches all the available details of each indexed the information source.
  • Title is the Article title, not the Journal title. Searches for items that use your inputs in its title.
  • Author/Creator. Searches for items written by this person.
  • Subject. These are terms the database recognizes as official keywords for a particular topic.
  • ISBN is the unique identifying number assigned to every book. Be aware that each edition of a book has its own ISBN.
  • ISSN is the unique identifying number assigned to every magazine and journal. Be aware that if the journal changes its title (which happens sometimes) it gets a new ISSN.

Note: Between the search boxes there are Boolean operator menus. These menus default to the AND operator, but you could use the menus to choose the OR or NOT operators. You could also use any of the six Boolean operators, including parentheses, quotation marks and truncation*, in the search boxes, as you would in a basic search.

Accessibility Note

Please note: If you need to request accommodations with content linked to on this guide, on the basis of a disability, please contact Accessibility Resources and Services by emailing them at  Requests for accommodations should be submitted as early as possible to allow for sufficient planning. If you have questions, please visit the Accessibility Resources and Services website