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Fulltext Databases

Fulltext databases are an attractive alternative to bibliographic databases because they offer convenient, ondemand access to many publications and services not held locally. Publications may include scholarly journals, newspapers, newswire services, television and radio transcripts, directories, and court decisions.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Freetext searching of a fulltext database has the advantage (and disadvantage) of allowing practically every word to be searched. (A, an and the would be words excluded from the search.)


The enduser is not limited to the words in the titles or assigned descriptors, but can use natural language to locate a specific phrase or term occurring in the document.


The search terms entered may be so common that an overwhelming number of documents are retrieved, or the terms may occur in separate sections of the document (first paragraph/last paragraph) and have no relationship to one another.

Search and Display Options

Fulltext search strategies will vary from system to system, but the following search and display options are often available.

BOOLEAN OPERATORS: to combine two or more search terms or facets.

PROXIMITY OPERATORS: to search two or more words in combination with one another, such as a phrase, in the same field or paragraph.

ADJACENCY OPERATORS: to search for two words occurring next to each other.

SEGMENT OR FIELD SEARCHING: to search for terms occurring in specified sections of the document, such as a title or byline.

HIGHLIGHTING SEARCH WORDS: to rapidly locate the search terms in the context in which they occur.

KWIC (Key Word In Context): to display only those portions of texts that contain the search terms.

WORD FREQUENCY COUNT: to sort display output or to help with relevance judging.

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