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Research 101

Searching

Records and fields

*A database is made up of records. A record is made up of fields

Records: the building blocks of databases, records describe information sources.

It is unrealistic, at this time, to expect all information sources to come directly to a computer screen on demand. The reasons for this will be clearer to you as you become more experienced finding and using information. In the meantime, having a record describing a source that you can then find using your own abilities and knowledge is an excellent starting point. The description in a record uses elements called metadata [information about information]. In many cases, the text itself will have to be located using other finding tools. Some libraries provide links to the text of articles, when available, at their own expense.

Fields: the building blocks of records; these are the sections of a record where information is stored.

For example, your driver's license or ID card is a record about you with fields describing your name, eye color, height, address, and so on. Field names can vary, but in library databases author, title, subject, publisher, and publication date are common.

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