The databases offer features and tools that manipulate search results. Learning how to effectly use these tools can reduce frustration and increase results. Searching methods can vary from one database to another, however most offer a basic search and an advanced search function. Depending on the goal of the search will depend on which search function to use.
Typically, the basic search box only searches one field, which may or my not be predetermined. In most cases this is set to keyword, or search all fields. The basic search is useful to determine how big the collection of articles related to the topic is, which will help in generating search strategies. It is also helpful when doing a known search, such as an author or an exact title.
Advanced search functions provide more control to the user, and allows for a more refined search. Multiple search terms in multiple fields can be search simulaneouly. This search function should be used when the collection of information is large and needs to be narrowed. It is also useful when information from more than one field would assist in locating items of interest such as when looking for an author with a common name. By combining a subject term, the results would be narrowed to that individual's work or material that refers to that author's work.
Many databases have limits that contol the available articles by specific parameters such as date, format, material type, language or location. These options can narrow the focus of results to only the parameters established. In Discovery, these limits are located in the left hand column of search results.
In many databases, online catalogues and internet search engines it is possible to refine results using a technique called "truncation". Truncation allows you to search for variant forms of a word as a single search concept, rather than identifying and entering variant words of the keyword as individual concepts. Variations of words in keyword searches can be searched simply by adding or replacing characters at the ends, beginning, or middle of the word with a truncation symbol, also known as a Wildcard. Wildcards are inserted in the place of letters that would vary depending on the usage.
(U.S. and Canadian spelling)
… will pick up useful variations….
… as well as not so useful terms….
… will pick up useful variations….
Laboraroty (even picks up spelling errors)
…as well as not so useful terms….
Labor [and delivery]
Single Character ?
Finds all terms which match the pattern (such as woman or women).
Finds all four letter words which start with b and end with k (such as book, bilk, or bark).
"advi?e and consent"
Finds all phrases which match the pattern (such as advise and consent or advice and consent).
Multiple Character *
Finds all terms which start and end with the letter t (such as tot, that, or target).
Finds all terms which start with the pattern work (such as work, worked, or workhorse).
Finds all terms which end in ed (such as worked, overloaded, or red).
Finds all documents which contain phrases which match the pattern (such as editable content or edited content).
Synonym (or Thesaurus) $
Finds synonyms of the term work (such as toil, effort, or trade).
Finds synonyms of run and word forms of run (word forms are discussed below). Synonym examples include dash, move, or track. Word form examples include run or ran.
Word Form (or Stem) %
Finds word forms of the term work (such as work, works, or worked).
Finds word forms of the term run (such as ran, runs or running).
Finds phrases which use forms of the word reduce (such as reducing or reduced) and the word size.
Boolean searches allow you to combine words and phrases using the words AND, OR, NOT (otherwise known as Boolean operators) to limit, widen, or define your search.