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Constructing Search Statements: A Basic Guide

How to construct simple statements for effective searches



Use the asterisk * symbol (in most databases) after the root word when searching keywords containing a common word root with any number of characters following the root.

Example: teach* will search for the keywords teach, teaches, teacher, teachers, teaching, etc.

Using truncation expands the search.


Nesting groups together concepts that are alike and instructs the search engine to search the terms in the parentheses first (e.g. stress and (adolescents or teenagers) will retrieve items on stress and adolescents as well as items on stress and teenagers).






Use double quotes (in most databases) or single quotes (in WebOPAC) for phrase search (e.g. 'creative thinking').

Using phrase searching narrows the search.




The search will ignore the stop words (articles, prepositions, or conjunctions, such as a, an, as, at, be, but, by, do, for, if, in, it, of, on, the, and to, among others). If you wish to include the stop words in your search, enclose your expression in double quotes (e.g. "war and peace").