These operators can be used in Library databases, but also work really well in Google!
Expands the search.
Used to string synonyms together.
Results include all articles with any of the terms used.
(all results including the words "hand washing" as well as all results including the words "hand hygiene")
Narrows the search.
All retrieved results must include all terms connected with AND.
AND usually combines different concepts together in one search.
(only results that include both the terms "hospital infection" and "antibiotic")
Excludes results with a specific term.
Really handy to eliminate unwanted search results.
(all results with the term "antibiotic", but excluding those with the term "penicillin")
A wildcard is a character that can be substituted for one or more characters in a search term. These work in most databases & also in Google.
Asterisk—can be used for any number of characters, but is most often used with a root word.
Question Mark—can be used to represent a character that is missing. It is most often used to retrieve all word variants.
Use quotation marks to search for phrases. Phrase searching is excellent when the desired result is specificity.
CAUTION! Do NOT use phrase searching in PubMed! It turns off Automatic Term Mapping. Just don't do it!
Google site searching can help search across various government websites or can help you better search poorly indexed websites. Site searches should be typed into the browser search bar (where the web address is located). Some browsers will
When you find a great article, look at its list of references (bibliography) for more relevant articles. If the article you found is perfect for your research, it is likely that it cited many other articles that will also be important to your research.
When you find an article in a reference list that you would like to locate, just copy the title and paste it into the Library's search box. If you cannot locate the article this way, try pasting it into Google Scholar. (REMEMBER: Only use Google Scholar through the Library's website. Click on "Databases" on the search box to locate Google Scholar.)