Q. In a ProQuest database, how do I narrow down my search to get the most useful results?
Proquest database include ABI/Inform, Accounting & Tax Database, Proquest Criminal Justice, and more.
There are a number of different methods for focusing your search results. Use all of them or select those which work best for your research.
1) ProQuest databases will suggest subjects you could use in a search. It will do this via a drop-down, auto-complete box while you are typing your search in, or with a Suggested subjects box after the search is executed, as shown below. The Suggested subjects provide clickable links.
2) Another method is to focus your search on the most important parts of the article. Go to the box to the right of where you enter your subject terms. It will automatically be set to “All fields + text.” If you click on the drop-down arrow for the box, you can change it to “All fields (no full text) – ALL.”
What this means is that for something to come up in your result set, it will have to include your words in the title, subject headings, or abstract – it’s not enough that they just occur in the body of the article. This lets you do a more focused, relevant search.
3) Another thing you can do is have the results list sorted by date (there’s a sort box to the right of the list of articles), so you can just focus on the most recent items. Or you can limit results to specific publication dates.
4) Another method is to limit your search to peer-reviewed, scholarly articles by checking off “peer reviewed” under your search box. This will limit your results to the most high-quality, scholarly research articles. Note: If your topic is currently in the news, this may limit your results too much since scholarly articles take a while to be published.
5) You can also limit your search to full text – that is, only have items come up that are included in the database in full text, so you don’t have to go anywhere else to get them.
Any of these methods can be combined in order to produce a more productive set of search results.