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SPH511 Research Skills Guide: Truncation and phrase searching


Truncation is used to search for terms with different word-endings.

This is another way of making your search broader, and getting more results.

In Primo Search, and in most databases, including CINAHL, the truncation symbol is the asterisk ( * ).

Example: teach* will search for the words teach, teacher, teachers, teaching etc.

Phrase searching

It’s helpful to know if the database you are searching defaults to phrase-searching or keyword-searching. Phrase-searching is more specific than keyword-searching.

Primo Search and most databases (eg EBSCOhost and ProQuest databases) default to keyword-searching.

Example: If you type in lung cancer, you will get results for lung AND cancer. If you wish to search for the phrase <lung cancer>, you need to type in "lung cancer".


Some databases (eg Ovid databases), default to phrase-searching.

Example: If you type in lung cancer, you will get the phrase <lung cancer>. If you wish to search for the keywords lung and cancer, you need to type in lung AND cancer.

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