Why do a field search?
If you were searching for information about corruption in immigration, which of the following searches returns a more relevant record? Why?
|corruption and immigration|
Most search engines and databases search "words anywhere" or "keywords" automatically unless you select another type of search.
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. This is known as "recall" searching because it focuses on recalling as much information as possible.
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. This is called "precision" searching because it focuses on finding only precisely what you need.
recall v. precision | keyword v. field
We recommend recall/keyword searching when you are doing either a large original research project or are looking for a rare or unique term (e.g. Eminem). Recall 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. Recall/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.
We recommend precision/field searching when you need to find a relatively small number of sources on a specific topic. Precision searching is most useful for smaller projects like course term papers, problem-solving activities, and making consumer choices.