Wednesday, June 27, 2007



Combining Search Terms

You may combine keywords and fields using the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT.


When you combine keywords with AND in a full-text search, you find all instances of items (articles, titles, reviews, etc.) in which both keywords appear. When you combine search terms, your search results will be more precise

You can also explicitly denote a Boolean AND in the following ways:

cat AND dog


Using OR between keywords allows to you find all articles which contain either keyword. To search for documents containing one or more of your search terms, use OR. For example:

cat OR dog

will search for instances of items that contain either the word cat, the word dog, or both.

Using Parentheses for Grouping

Parentheses allow you to determine the order in which terms will be combined. Thus the query: "currency reform" AND (russia OR "soviet union") will search for items that contain the phrase "currency reform" and that contain either russia or "soviet union".

Why Use Grouping?
Without grouping parentheses, the query "currency reform" AND (russia OR "soviet union") will be interpreted as "currency reform" AND russia OR "soviet union", which returns items containing either both of "currency reform" and russia or containing "soviet union". By using parentheses, you can carefully control the grouping of search terms.

Additional Examples:

(finch OR sparrow) AND exotic will search for documents that contain the word exotic and either the word finch or the word sparrow.

(birds OR butterflies) NOT sparrow will search for documents that contain either the word birds or butterflies and do not contain the word sparrow.

birds NOT (sparrow robin) will search for items that contain the word birds but do not contain both the words sparrow and robin (remember, a space between terms defaults to an AND operator).

birds NOT (sparrow OR robin) will search for items that contain the word birds but do not contain either of the words sparrow or the word robin.


Wildcards can be used to represent one or more characters in a search term. A question mark (?) can be used for single character searching and an asterisk (*) can be used for multiple character searching. Wildcards are typically used to search for alternate spellings of the same word and to search for variations on a root word. Please note, wildcard characters cannot be used in place of the first letter of a word and cannot be used within an exact phrase search.

Single Character
Using a question mark (?) wildcard allows you to replace zero or one letter(s) in a word. A search query with the term te?ts will find the words tets, tents, tests, texts, and any other five-lettered words that start with te- and end with -ts.

Multiple Character
You can use an asterisk (*) to match more than one letter. A search on bird* will find bird, birding, birdman, birds, and other words that start with bird-.

Wildcard characters may be used in a field search: au:sm?th or ti:shakespeare*

Other examples:

organi?ation will search for articles containing organization or organisation.

behavior* will search for articles containing words starting with behavior-, such as behavior, behavioral, behaviorist, behaviorism, or behaviorally.

p*diatric residency statistics will search for articles containing pediatric or paediatric and the terms residency and statistics.

wom?n AND "science education" will search for articles that contain the phrase science education and also contain woman or women or womyn.

(novel& or fiction) AND feminis* will search for articles that contain words that start with feminis- (e.g. feminism or feminist) and also contain novel or novels or fiction.

NOTE: The closer to the start of a term the wildcard appears, the longer your query will take to process. Using multiple wildcards within a single search term will also result in longer search times.


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