Keyword searching finds matches for your terms in any field of a record or any part of a Web page, so you will typically retrieve more information with less precision.
Databases and search engines may allow searching in specific fields such as author, title, url (Web address), or subject (which is the most common field to search) and will sometimes refer to this as "advanced," or "expert" searching. These searches will typically retrieve less information with more precision.
|If you are a detective and the only clues you have for a missing persons case are the words "red," "blue," and "green," these people could be a match.|
This is keyword searching: RED + BLUE + GREEN
|If instead you knew your person had a red tie, blue shirt, and a green beret, you have a better chance of finding the right person.|
This is field searching: Tie= RED, Shirt= BLUE, Beret= GREEN
When should you use a keyword search?
We recommend keyword searching when you are doing either a large original research project or are looking for a rare or unique term (e.g. Eminem). This strategy allows you to find anything remotely related to a topic. Doctoral students and professional researchers typically perform these searches early in their research in order to identify everything already published about their focus area. Keyword searching can also be an effective strategy for identifying subject terms from a few relevant records to prepare for a subject field search later.
When should you use a field search?
We recommend field searching when you need to find a relatively small number of sources on a specific topic. This type of searching is most useful for smaller projects like course term papers, problem-solving activities, and making consumer choices.