Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Let's talk field qualification

Field qualification is an excellent way to make use of the individual fields that make up a record within a particular bibliographic database (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO,Science Citation Index, etc). And the reason that you would want to is that this method allows you to instruct the system to look for exactly what you want in the very field that you expect it to be. How powerful!

So each record within the bibliographic database has individual fields. Examples of fields are: Author, Title, Journal, Volume, Issue, Pages, Abstract, Institution, etc.

Usually, the search interface for the database will allow you to do field searching in several different ways. Let's use Ovid as an example (later we'll talk PubMed and Web of Science).

In Ovid, you have the option of using 'Search Fields' icon across the top (above the search history box). Clicking on this icon will bring you to the Search Fields page. Here's where the fields (and their two letter codes or tags) are listed. Check as many fields as you want and type the word you're searching for in the query box. Then choose between Perform Search and Display Indexes. Display Index(es) will actually list your word in an alphabetical index with an indication of what field it came from. I use this frequently when I'm unsure of the spelling of a word or when I want to see all the variations of the word as it is used in the database.

The shortcut method is use command language in the query box and for that you need to know the two letter code (aka field tag) for the field and the appropriate syntax. Here are some examples:

diabetes.ti. and 2005.yr.
schizophrenia.ti. and 2004.yr. and 649.pg.


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