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Using Databases


Limiting Your Results: Using Filters

Quickly learn basics of using library databases to find articles.

Limiting Your Results

You can limit your results in database searches so that you aren't overwhelmed with irrelevant titles. Helpful filters:

  • Published date
  • Peer reviewed (scholarly) sources
  • Type of source (Journal, Newspaper, Conference Paper, etc.)
  • Language
  • Subject terms 

Using Filters

Each database will look slightly different, and include different filtering options. Here are examples of filtering options In Academic OneFile and JSTOR:

Academic OneFile

Screenshot of Academic OneFile database search limiters, highlighting "peer reviewed journals" and publication dates


Screenshot of JSTOR search limiters, highlighting item type, date range, and language

TIP:  Keep in mind that the layouts and options of database interfaces change over time, just like any website.

Using Subject Terms

To focus your search precisely, use subject terms. Most databases will provide a selection of subject terms that seem to be relevant to your search query. For example, here is a query searching "mobile phones" AND africa, and the subject terms displayed along with search results:

Communication Abstracts search screen with the search "mobile phones" AND africa as keywords


Communication Abstracts subject terms provided on the search results page of a search for "mobile phones" AND africaTIP: Note that subject terms are often different from the words you might have typed into the search box. Using the subject terms provided by the the database will consistently give you results lists with more relevant titles.

You can also quickly find useful subject terms by looking at a single relevant article record. Select any linked subject term to see more articles tagged with the same term.

Screenshot of article record in Communication Abstracts: "The social meanings of mobile phones among South Africa's "digital natives": a case study, highlighting subject terms.