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Recordings and Tutorials

Narrowing a Search: Video Tutorial

Created by Michael Muchow, Humanities Subject Librarian

Published on November 2, 2013

This video tutorial will give you tips on how to further narrow your search results within a database. Narrowing your search will make your results more manageable and easier to browse through, helping you to focus in on the resources you need.

Narrowing a Search: Written Tutorial

This tutorial is going to narrow a search using EBSCOhost. Most databases can be searched in a similar way.

First, you should search a term on whatever subject you’re looking for. In this example, we’re using multiculturalism. When you click the search bar you come back with over 55,000 results.

To narrow this result, you can use a variety of methods.

We'll look through using the Boolean 'AND' operator, TITLE field, SUBJECT field, material type, date, word string or phrase, and the Boolean 'NOT' operator.


1) Boolean ‘AND’ operator.

Add another term and in the box below your main subject. To the left of this box, make sure that AND is chosen. If some other word is chosen, click the arrow beside the box where it will drop down and show the choices you want.



2) TITLE field.

Continuing with the word multiculturalism, hit the drop down button in the box to the right of the subject. Change it from "Select a Field" to "Title" and hit the search button.



You can narrow the search by SUBJECT. When you find a subject heading, seen in the description, that matches what you need, you can choose to narrow your search by subject heading.

To do this, type the subject in the main box, then choose SUBJECT from the dropdown box to the right of your term. Hit the search bar to complete your search.



4) Material Type

You can limit your search by the type of material you are looking for. Are you looking for a book, a scholarly article, something else? Here, we are going to limit to Scholarly or Peer Reviewed Journals.

You can refine your results using the tab on the left and clicking on Scholarly (Peer Reviewed).


5) Date

On the left side of the screen in the refine results section, there should be a timeline that shows a variety of publication dates. You can revise the timeline to meet specific date requirements, like finding articles published in the last 7 years.


6) Word String or Phrase

You can also narrow your search by using a string or phrase. If you put two words next to each other, like ford focus, and search, you are not searching for those words next to each other.


Instead, you should use quotation marks around your phrase to find the phrase you are seeking.


7) Boolean ‘NOT’ operator.

This is helpful if you are getting results about two different types of things. In this example ‘jaguar’ returns results about the car and the cat. If we don’t want to know about the car we can add the word ‘automobile’ as a second term. Instead of using the AND, use the drop down arrow to choose NOT. Then click the search button. This removes all references to jaguar that have to do with the automobile.


If you have any further questions on narrowing a search, or any other research questions, please contact the librarians.