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ITC506 Research Skills Guide: Search tips

Common Search Tips

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.

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. ethics AND internet
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. AI OR "artificial intelligence"
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. social media NOT Facebook
Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches. infringement (meme AND copyright)
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "artificial intelligence"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. ethic* = ethics, ethical, ethically
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze

Check out the search tips on our Primo Search Help Guide to find out more on advanced search techniques.

Where to use these search techniques

You can use these strategies in the basic and advanced search boxes in Primo Search and other Library databases. 

  Boolean Truncation Wildcards Phrases Proximity Groups
Google  Yes* NO Yes* YES Yes* YES
Google Scholar Yes* NO Yes* YES Yes* YES
Primo Search YES YES YES YES NO YES
Journal Databases YES YES YES YES YES YES
Yes* = yes it does this but it works differently. The search techniques accepted by each journal database can vary; if in doubt, check a database's help section.

 

Activity

Try combining some of your keywords using some common search tips.

  • Do you have similar terms to link with OR?
  • Do you have any phrases?
  • Can you combine two different terms with an AND?

Proximity Searching

A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term. The proximity operator varies according to the database.

In the EBSCOhost journal database the proximity operators are:

N= near

W=within

If you search for You will get results for
 data N3 mining Results where data is within three words of mining in any order
"data mining" W4 "electronic surveillance" Any result where the phrase "data mining" appears within four words of "electronic surveillance"

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