How can I narrow my search?


Edit your search string: If you are noticing that your results list is not bringing up super relevant articles be sure to work on developing your search and coming up with broader or narrower keywords, you can learn more about developing your search in our Boolean Operators Guide.

Limit your results: You can also limit your results lists using the limiters in your results list, this will depend on the database you are in but check our ProQuest Guide and Discover Guide for more info on narrowing in those databases. You can also learn more about narrowing your search in our Guide to the Research Process

Use field code drop down menu: If your search seems to be well-developed, but your results still do not seem relevant, your search may be picking up the term anywhere in the text you are searching -- this can include anywhere in the pdf of the article if it is attached. Which could mean that you are searching for results about Canada and an article is coming up that has cited a source published by a Canadian Journal. This is where the drop down menu next to each subject line comes in handy, these are called fields:

drop down menu next to each search box in EBSCO allows you to select various options such as all text, author, title, subject, abstract, etc.


Using "abstract" will ensure the subject at least is a fairly central theme in the article.

You can find "subject terms" to use by looking at subject terms in other relevant articles, or using a database's thesaurus or subject heading section.

Find out more about using the field codes.

Each topic area and database is going to be different, each database will have a help section that will explain how to use the fields section, but also play around with the various fields and see what works best for your results.

Database field code help:







  • Last Updated Mar 12, 2024
  • Views 111
  • Answered By Joanna Nemeth

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