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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Field Codes

Searching in a database using different fields can be a powerful way to narrow your results. A field is a specific part of a record in a database. Common fields that can be searched are: author, title, subject, and abstract. When using the Advanced Search screen in Roadrunner Search and databases, look for drop down boxes or menus to select the field you want to search. Multiple fields may be combined using Boolean operators. The default field for most databases may be called ‘keyword’ or ‘anywhere’. By keeping this default, the database will search in any indexed field. But using specific field codes in combination with other search techniques can produce more precise searches.

Below are examples of different options for using field codes in Roadrunner Search and other databases.

Roadrunner Search Title (TI) Search

Use this code to quickly locate a specific article by title in the Library’s databases. Simply copy and paste the article’s title into the Roadrunner Search box on the Library’s home page and change the drop-down menu from Keyword to Title. Then click Submit. See the Finding Specific Articles FAQ for more details.

Roadrunner Search & EBSCOHost Advanced Search




Title (TI) – Limit your search terms to the title of a resource. This would be the most narrow type of search and may not yield the widest range of resources or scholarly articles on your topic.

Author (AU) – Limit your search to author(s) name. See the Authors FAQ.

Subject Terms (SU) – Narrow your search terms to a subject category. Note: Sometimes the code DE (descriptor) is added to the search box when you click on a subject term hyperlink. See the Subject Terms and Database Thesauri page for more detailed information.

Abstract (AB) – Limit your search terms to the abstract of scholarly articles (or other resources that may have an abstract). This search is more narrow than limiting to subject terms but broader than limiting to title. This field code is especially useful when trying to locate articles that use specific research methodology such as empirical, qualitative, quantitative, case studies, etc. See the Research Methodology page and the Empirical Articles FAQ for more detailed information.

Less frequently used field codes include:
Journal Title or Source (SO) - limit search terms to the name of the publication. 
ISSN (IS) – International Standard Serial Number – a standard eight-digit number that identifies serial publications (journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.).
ISBN (IB) – International Standard Book Number – a standard ten or thirteen-digit number used to identify books.

**For a more comprehensive publication search, by title, ISSN or ISBN, use the Library's Find a Resource tool. **

ProQuest Advanced Search

Offers the same range of field codes with slight variation in the terminology, plus “more options” that offer even more detailed fields, which are less frequently used for most academic research.