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Advanced Search Screens in Research Databases

How to use the library search engine's advanced search options

Advanced Search Screens

Most research databases - including Global Search, ProQuest Dissertations, Gale Academic Onefile and Google - have an advanced search screen. Unlike a basic search that allows you to enter just a few keywords, advanced search screens allow you to apply various attributes to the search in order to maximize the relevance of your results. 

If you are not sure where to begin your research, visit the Getting Started with Library Research guide.


An advanced search screen helps you explore a database efficiently to find the best research material for your project, and allows you to easily combine multiple terms into one search as shown below. 

Search Boxes

Library databases cannot process sentences or questions, so usually you should type no more than 3 or 4 words - or one name or concept - per line. If you need additional lines to add a term or concept, click the plus button (or "Add a Row" in some databases) to add additional lines. You can click the minus button to remove unneeded lines. The more terms you add to your search, the more your results list should be reduced.

Excluding Terms from Your Search

To exclude terms from your search, change the dropdown box to the left of the search box from AND to NOT.

Limiting Your Search by Field

By clicking “Select a Field” to the right of the search boxes, you can limit your search to specific fields of the database. A field contains a specific bit of information, such as author, title of the work, year of publication, etc. If you are looking for a specific article, you can change “Select a Field” to search only through Title fields, thus getting access to the item you need more quickly. When you are looking for an exact title or name, you can type more than 3 or 4 words on the line. 


The fields limit as follows:

  • TX All Text - Searches the entire record of each item in the database, including all titles, authors, publishers, summaries/abstracts, and subject terms. Broadest possible search, returns maximum results.
  • AU Author - Searches only the author fields of each item in the database.
  • TI Title - Searches book titles and journal ARTICLE titles. Does NOT search journal/magazine/newspaper titles.
  • SU Subject Terms - This is a very specific type of search. Click here to learn about Subject Terms. Searching by subject terms usually reduces your results.
  • SO Journal Title/Source - Searches only the titles of journals NOT journal/newspaper/magazine articles
  • AB Abstract - An abstract is a summary of the item. Abstracts are included in many of the items in the library’s databases. Searching only the abstracts can be useful when your keywords don’t necessarily appear in the titles. 
  • ISSN - A unique identifier number assigned to most published journals. 
  • ISBN - A unique 9 or 13 digit identifier assigned to most published books. Every edition of a book has a different ISBN, e.g. a hardback, paperback, and eBook of the same title will all have different ISBNs.

Searching on Mobile Devices

EBSCO has a mobile app that can be used to find information in the Global Search database and other EBSCO databases provided by the library. The EBSCO Mobile App video helps you learn to use EBSCO databases on your mobile devices. The mobile app works only with EBSCO branded databases, which have a blue banner and the EBSCOhost logo: 

EBSCOhost logo

You can select EBSCO databases by going to the UMass Global Library’s Databases List and changing the All Vendors/Providers drop down menu to EBSCO.