|Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms.||laboratory AND accident|
|Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms.||laboratory OR lab|
|Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results.||lab NOT retriever|
|Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches.||(laboratory OR lab) AND accident|
|Use quotation marks to search for a phrase||"chemical hazard"|
|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|
Some databases use different symbols, so if these tips don't work in the database you are using check their help section.
Using the AND operator
Using the OR operator
Using the NOT operator
government NOT state
(politics OR government) AND (history OR past) AND australia
politics OR government
politic* will search for the words politic, politics, political, politician, politicians etc.
histor* will search for the words history, historical, historian, historians etc.
Example: If you type in lung cancer, you will get results equivalent to searching lung AND cancer. If you wish to search for the phrase <lung cancer>, you need to type in "lung cancer".
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.
Database records consist of fields that contain specific pieces of bibliographic information.
Common fields include:
Most databases will default to searching in all the main fields (see Database Platforms below), but changing this to search only in a specific field, or fields, can give you more precise results.
For topic searching, it's a good idea to search in the Subject field, but searching in the Title field can work quite well too. If you are searching for an author, you can search only in the Author field; if you are searching for a publication, you can search only in the Publication (also known as the Source) field.
To find the various fields in which you can search, look for drop-down boxes or menus. Here's the EBSCOhost Advanced Search screen.
You can combine search terms, search operators, and field searching to build quite complex searches, and get precise results:
For information on searching using a thesaurus, see Using a thesaurus.
So far, we have looked at how search operators, truncation, keyword- and phrase-searching, and field searching can narrow or broaden your search.
Search limiters are another important way to narrow a search, and most databases offer a range of limiters that you can use as part of your search, or that you can apply after you have your results. In the latter case, they are usually called refiners or filters, because they refine/filter your results.
Common limiters include:
Other limiters will be available according to the subject content of the database, but might include:
To find limiters to add to your search, look for tick-boxes and drop-down menus on the main search page. To find refiners to refine your results, look for lists to the left or right of your results list: