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Doing Research

Advanced techniques

There are more techniques you can use while you are doing your research. These techniques are:

  • Truncation
  • Phrase Search
  • Boolean logic
  • Advanced search & search limiters
It is wise to use advanced searching techniques when you have a good understanding of the results that you get or of the research tools you are using. Advanced searching techniques do not do deeper searching. If you apply them too early in the process, you may end up with no results. So, you should use them with caution, and not at the beggining of the research.

Truncation

It is a technique which expands search results. It uses the addition of the asterisk (*) symbol at the beginning or end of a word stem in a keywords search to retrieve variants containing the root. Truncation is particularly useful in retrieving both the singular and the plural forms of a word in the same search. As a general rule, we recommended that you do not truncate fewer than four characters. It's good to apply it when you need more sources.

Example: art* retrieves:artist | artistic | artistry | artwork | artichoke

Phrase search

It is a tecnhique which narrows down search results. It uses a search syntax which involves using quotation marks (") around a specific phrase of a search query. This allows you to find sources that contain an exact phrase rather than a set of keywords in random order. It's good to apply it when you need less sources.

Example: "Electronic surveillance" will produce results that contain both words as an exact phrase.

Boolean logic

This type of search uses operators that help you narrow or broaden your search. The most common operators are AND, OR, NOT. Check the table below to see when and how to use them.

 Boolean Operators  Example  How it works

AND

Finds all terms included in a search query

divorce

AND

children

It narrows down search results

  Tip!   Good practice when you want to combine more than one search terms.

  Tip!   Most searching tools imply the AND between keywords so you don’t have to type it. If you use it, it needs to be in capital letters.

OR

Finds one or either terms included in a search query

organic foods

OR

natural foods

It expands search results

  Tip!  Good practice when there is more than one commonly used set of keywords that describe a topic. If you use it, it needs to be in capital letters.

NOT

Finds the first term included in a query but not the second

Greek history

NOT

ancient

It narrows down search results

  Tip!  Good practice when not useful words pop up in your results. If you use it, it needs to be in capital letters.

Advanced search & Search limiters

Limiters are features that are available in almost any search tool like discovery tools, online catalogs, or databases. They allow you to employ various parameters to restrict the retrieval of information. Limiters vary, but typically include: publication date, material format or type, language, full-text availability, peer-reviewing (for journal articles), and location. Search limiters can be applied from the "Advanced Search" or from "side menus" that appear on several tools.

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