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Database Searching Basics: Title Search

Practical guide covering fundamentals of database searching technique.

How to Search for Articles - by Title

Title Searching

A title search retrieves any records with your matching search terms in an article's title. To perform a title search in JSTOR:

1. Click the Advanced Search link on the Basic search screen.


2. Click open the index field menu adjacent to the first search box, find and select the Item Title index field.


3. Enter your search term(s) or exact title (if you are seeking a specific article).


4. Click the Search button to perform.

Your search will retrieve a list of articles containing your search terms somewhere in their title(s) or subtitle(s).

When to Perform a Title Search?

Best for Targetted Searching

Title searching is probably best used to locate known items in a database:

• records where the full article title is known, or 

• records where part of an article title is known.

Pros & (mostly) Cons as Discovery Strategy

Title searching can be used as a general, topical search strategy.

But its very limiting to do so because:

a) it confines searching solely to the title field, 

b) it ignores other text-dense index fields,¹ 

c) titles are not always descriptive of content.


¹ Both Abstract and (especially) Subject Headings fields often provide fuller description of an article's subject content than the title field. Author's sometimes like to arrest their reader's attention with a catchy title. Unfortunately catchy titles don't always encapsulate well the topical focus of article content. Abstracts & Subject Headings are all about description.

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