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Writing 114 (Hothem): Search Strategies

Phrase Searching


" "

To search for specific phrases, enclose them in quotation marks. The database will search for those words together in that order.


“platelet disorder”

“salt intake”

“high energy drinks”

“temporomandibular joint disc”

Keywords vs. Subjects

keywords vs subjects chart

Boolean Operators (AND/OR)



Join together search terms in a logical manner.

AND - narrows searches, used to join dissimilar terms
OR - broadens searches, used to join similar terms


asthma AND gene

“joint pain" OR “joint stiffness”

jogging OR running





Truncate a word in order to search for different forms of the same word. Many database use the asterisk * as the truncation symbol.


Truncate the word child* to search for child, childhood, children etc.

Add the truncation symbol to epilep* to search for epileptic, epilepsy etc.

Field Searching

In many databases the default is to look for your search terms Anywhere. If your results are not relevant OR you have too many results, you may wish to look for your most important terms in a specific field such as the Title field or the Abstract field.


Field Searching Narrows

  • "climate change" (Search ANYWHERE = 66,000+ results)
  • "climate change" (Search in TITLE field = 14,000+ results)