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Search Bibliography

Basic & Advanced Search

Choose Advanced Search option (even when you use Google Scholar!) – provides:


  • more options to specify the information you need and gett more relevant results
  • the ability to use the below functions



Boolean (logical) operators AND, OR, NOT are used by almost all search engines and databases to connect search terms and define the relationships between them. They allow you to create a very broad or very narrow search.


  • To use them, go to Advanced Search option
  • Some Databases instead of the words AND, OR, NOT, use other phrases to specify the relationships between the search terms (e.g. Springer, Google Scholar).




Google Scholar

Field Searching

Most databases (when you us Advanced Search option) allow you to limit your search in a particular field (such as the item title, author, subject, or abstract).


  • You can use it for more specific searches: indicate where the database will search for the keywords you have inserted in particular search boxes (e.g. if you are looking for articles by a specific author, you can type the author's name in the search box and choose the "author" field from the drop-down menu).
  • If you're not sure how a particular field is used in a specific database, check the database's HELP page.





Phrase Searching

Most library databases and other search engines (e.g. Google) allow you to search for two or more words as an exact phrase (e.g. "civil war").


  • Use quotation marks  “…” around the phrase to ensure that the concept will be searched for as a whole and not picked apart by the database.



Wildcards & Truncation

Wildcards and truncation symbols are used to replace unknown characters in your keywords. By using them, the database will search for variations of your search term, allowing you to retrieve more results than when searching with one word.


  • Useful for words that are spelled differently but mean the same thing (e.g. colour & color), words that have the same root (base) but may have multiple endings (sun, sunny, sunshine/ print, reprint, e-print), words in singular and plural form (Woman & women).
  • In most databases asterisk (*) used to replace variant or unknown letters (or even words), but check the database's HELP page to verify which symbol to use.




The Thesaurus in a database is a list of standardized or officially endorsed terms (subject headings or descriptors) that are used to index materials in the database. It allows you to search for the formal terminology that a particular database uses to describe its sources as well as the relationships between terms (broader/ narrower/ related).


  • Example: If a database use the subject term automobile as subject heading rather than the term car, that means that all the related articles (even those use the term car) would be indexed under automobile.
  • In most databases you will find it as Thesaurus or Descriptor List or Subject Terms and may help you to find the most appropriate words or phrases for your topic.




Help / Search Tips

You do not need to remember anything from the above as all the databases provide a HELP page where all the important information and/or instructions for effective searches are included.


  • In most databases you will find it as Help or Search Tips page.