It’s great to get exactly the information you need, but sometimes, good search words and Boolean searching can’t get you exactly what you need.  Sometimes you need information that’s specific to a time frame or you need information that’s been peer-reviewed. 

Boolean searching can’t help you with this.  For this, you need to use the built-in limiters that the databases provide.


Like Boolean searching, almost all databases provide the three main limiters: date, peer-review, and full text.  These three are powerful limiters and will drastically narrow results.  Keep in mind that not everything is available in full text, and that limiting to this may actually be more harmful than helpful to your search.  Libraries have the ability to get you almost any article you need, and the instructions for asking librarians to request articles from other libraries is included in this module, too.

What the Heck Is Peer-Review? in under 2 minutes by clbash on GoAnimate

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  1. Know how to limit your results by database.
  2. Know how to limit your results by date.
  3. Know how to limit your results to peer-reviewed.
  4. Know how to limit your results to full text.
  5. Know what to do when full text isn’t available.

Video Tutorial

Screenshot Walkthrough

1.  If you need articles published within a certain time frame, you can either click in the appropriate date box (usually the left one) or click and drag the scrolling date bar.  I’m changing the year to 2005.  Click update to finalize.


2.  Note that this has reduced the results because it has removed all articles published before 2005.  You can tell what limiters you currently are using by referring to the limiters box (top red box, at left).


3.  This is still a lot of results, and sometimes your assignment requires peer-reviewed articles.  Click the box next to Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals to get just these articles in your results, and nothing else.


4.  Again, this has reduced the results.  But now we have just peer-reviewed articles published after 2005.


5.  Clicking Full Text limits results to only articles where full text is available.


6.  This can be useful, especially if your results list is large.  You can see how it has reduced the search to only peer-reviewed articles published since 2005 available in full text.


7.  But be careful–full text sometimes reduces your results to only a few articles.


If this happens, uncheck full text and return to your previous settings.  Copy and paste into a document the information for any article you want that doesn’t have full text and print it, or print the list, and bring this to  a librarian.  We will request the article from other libraries if we don’t have a print subscription to the magazine or journal.  Remember that this may take time, so don’t procrastinate getting your sources.



Further Practice

Want some practice?  Try this case scenario, Agent X:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to do a search for full text, scholarly articles on organic farming in the U.S from 2000 to the present.  This is your chance to practice doing a real search using what you’ve learned.  Don’t worry about your database choice—use Academic Search Premier.  Focus instead on what your search terms are, how to combine them, and how to limit your search to exactly what you need.

Mission Possible #3–Limit Your Database Searches by clbash on GoAnimate

To ponder:  What did you come up with?  Did you find it difficult to find the information, and if so, was it the limiters or putting together the search that was difficult?  Would you have to request the article from another library?

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