On this page:
"If in doubt, check the help area of each database you use. It will outline all of the relevant symbols for advanced search techniques"
Now that you have identified the key search terms and how they can be combined, you need to consider some additional search techniques that can improve the relevancy and number of your results.
These will take into account things like different spellings, plural words, similar and related words, different words for the same concept etc. You do not want to miss a key paper because the author used “advanced nurse practitioner” and you had only searched for “advanced practice”! The main techniques to help with this are explained in the list below – just click on any one to see an explanation of how to use it.
Use truncation to ensure all relevant articles are retrieved. This is often denoted by an asterisk * which is placed at the stem of the word. Truncating a term will look for variant endings and plurals.
Enclose your search terms within double quotation marks, i.e “high blood pressure”. This will avoid databases automatically inserting an “AND” between your search terms.
Use wildcards to improve your search. Different databases use different symbols. For example, on the EBSCOhost database, ? replaces one character, # replaces one or more.
Narrow and focus your search, e.g. proximity searching. You can use operators such as 'N' to look for where words are NEAR to another. In some databases you can specify the distances between search words, for example in the EBSCOhost databases (such as Medline and Cinahl).
See the following examples of the use of truncation, wildcards, phrase searches and proximity. These examples build on the previous pages.
Example 1: teenagers and high blood pressure
(teen* OR adolescen* OR "young adult*" OR youth* OR juvenile*) AND ("high blood pressure" OR hypertension)
Example 2: dementia and the elderly
(dementia* OR alzheimer*) AND (elder* OR old* OR geriatric* OR senior*)
Example 3: leadership and organisations
(leader* OR manag* ) N3 (organi?ation*)