This is an introduction to some of the general techniques that you can use in online searching. Using these techniques will make your searching better and more effective!
Note: Databases and other online resources are similar in what they offer and what they do, but are different in their specific appearance and functionality. It's a good idea to check a database's Help section to check and confirm how to search in that particular database.
These search tips can help you to find more relevant results in Primo Search and many other library databases. If these tips don't work in the database you are using check their help section for their set of symbols.
|Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms.||police AND federal|
|Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms.||politics OR government|
|Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results.||canine NOT dental|
|Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches.||(tertiary OR university) AND education|
|Use quotation marks to search for a phrase||"lung cancer"|
|Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk.||manag* = manage, managed, managing, management|
|A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word.||analy?e = analyse, analyze|
What's the difference?
It is useful to know whether the database you are searching defaults to a keyword search or a phrase search.
Keyword Search. Primo Search and most databases (eg EBSCOhost and ProQuest databases) default to a keyword search:
|If you enter, in the search box: human rights||You will get results that have human AND rights [not necessarily occurring together]|
|If you want to get results for human rights as a phrase||You will need to enter, in the search box: "human rights"|
Phrase Search. Some databases (eg Ovid databases) default to a phrase search:
|If you enter, in the search box: human rights||You will get results that have human rights as a phrase|
|If you want to get results that have both the words human and rights, but not necessarily together||You will need to enter, in the search box: human AND rights|
If in doubt, enclose a phrase in double quotation marks.
Truncation is used to search for the same term with different word-endings. This is another way of making your search broader, with more results.
The truncation symbol is usually the asterisk (*).
|If you search for:||You will get:|
|manag*||manage, manager, managers, managing etc|
|team*||team, teams, teamworks etc|
|touris*||tourist, tourists, tourism etc [but not tour or tours]|
Try combining some of your keywords using some common search tips.