This page covers search strategies that can be used to search the databases covered in this guide. Use keywords or short phrases to search for information on your topic and try using different strategies as described below when searching to retrieve relevant results.
Boolean searching refers to using the operators, AND, NOT and OR to combine keywords or short phrases to return more relevant results.
air AND water - both keywords must be in the results list
air NOT water - air must be in the results list; water must be excluded
air OR water - either keyword must be in the results list
The animations below show how using the operators changes search results.
Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.
|Symbol||What it does||Sample search||Instead of typing|
|*||replaces zero or more letters at the end of a word
(this is truncation)
|comput*||computer OR computing OR computational OR...|
|#||replaces at most one letter||ne#t||net OR neat OR next OR nest OR...|
|?||replaces only one letter||b?t||bat OR bet OR bit OR bot OR but OR...|
REMEMBER: Some databases may use these symbols differently or may use different symbols, so check the database's help section if you're having problems with wildcards.
Proximity searching allows for articles with two or more terms or phrases in certain proximity to each other to be identified.
Types of proximity searches:
Dogs N5 Cats
Searches for articles with the terms "dogs" and "cats" within 5 words of each other, REGARDLESS OF ORDER.
Dog W5 Cats
Searches for articles in which the the term "cats" FOLLOWS the term "dogs" within 5 words. Only searches for the terms or phrases IN THE ORDER they are presented in the search.