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Decode Search Strings


Did you click on a search string on your readings page that looked like this:

"community health" AND "indigenous people"

And it turned into this on the database page:

TI,SU("community health") AND "indigenous people" AND pd(20150827-20200827) AND stype("Dissertations & Theses")

We can explain!

Limiters, sometimes referred to as filters, are embedded within the original search string and refine the search results, making them more relevant. Let’s dig deeper!

Limiters & Field Codes

Limiters are usually found in the Advanced Search area of a database and sometimes in the left or right margin of a results page.

Most limiters have a unique identifier called a field code. A field code tells the database where to search in the result, i.e., a search for TI(community) searches for the word community in the title of a material.

When a limiter is selected, the respective field code is added to the search string. Here are some common field codes you'll see in an advanced search string.

Field Code Stands For Function
TX All Text Searches for the keyword in the full text and citation.
AU Author Searches for any authors of an article.
TI Title Searches keywords in an article's title field.
SU Subject Searches the subject headings of an article.
SO Source Searches the journal name of the article.
AB Abstract Searches within the abstract summary of an article.
PUB Publication Searches the publication name of the article.
PD Publication Date Searches within the date parameters set. 
STYPE Source Type Searches for the specific source type such as newspapers, magazines, or journals.

Keep in mind that limiters and field codes can (and do) change from database to database. Use the Advanced Search link provided by the database to see the databases available.

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Ask Us!

Need help finding additional information? Ask us!

We’ll work with you to identify specific resources and search techniques to keep you moving forward.

Reusing Searches

When we list a search string in your course, we've usually selected the most relevant database(s) for the search. That doesn't mean that you can't reuse the search in a different database.

Copy and paste the simple terms we've supplied on your course readings page into the database of your choice. Select the Advanced Search link provided by the database to add limiters to those terms. Advanced search is useful as the format and style may differ between database vendors (for example, EBSCOhost versus SAGE).

Learn More

For more information on how to perform advanced searches and use limiters, check out: