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Research FAQs: What does a Database Search?

Answering Students' Most Asked Library Questions

What does a Database Search?

Most Databases contain hundreds if not thousands of full text articles. These articles are indexed using metadata (metadata is data about data) When you search using a database, the algorithm is attempting to match your words to the indexed words. The most common fields that will be matched:

  • Title
  • Author 
  • Source Title (the Journal or material the article was published in)
  • Abstract (usually supplied by the author)
  • Subject Terms or Headings

Executing a basic search will search across all fields, while an advanced search screen will allow the researcher to select specific fields to search.

For Instance: the researcher will obtain very different results for a search for "Martin Luther" as the author or "Martin Luther" as the subject.

What does a Database Search?

ESBCO Databases:                                                  ProQuest Database: