Databases and other search engines (including Google Scholar) use algorithms and logic to match your search enquiry (i.e. keywords) to existing sources (e.g. books and journal articles). This page explains the tools available to help you create a better search strategy to find relevant sources.
Phrase searching will narrow your search results to find only those sources where your exact phrase is used. Place double quotation marks around two or more words, ensuring the words appear in the correct order.
Examples: "mental health"
Truncation widens your search results to find alternative endings to a word. Place an asterisk after the root of the word.
Examples: enjoy* = enjoy, enjoys, enjoyment, enjoying, enjoyable
adolescen* = adolescent, adolescents, adolescence
Using a wildcard will widen your search results to find alternative spellings for a word. Use a question mark in place of the letter that changes with different spellings.
Examples: organi?e = organise, organize
labo?r = labor, labour
wom?n = woman, women
To find alternative terms that mean the same thing, place OR (all caps) between the terms.
Example: teens OR teenager* OR "young adults" OR youth OR adolescen*
Use AND (all caps) between the different topics of your search to narrow your search results.
Example: "young adults" AND "mental health" AND sports
Place your string of alternative terms inside brackets to "nest" that part of the search together.
Example: (teens OR teenager* OR "young adults" OR youth OR adolescen*)
You can select where to search for your keywords (field searching):
An Advanced Search includes limiters, (tick box or drop down menu), that let you to limit your search by:
Most databases provide a Help Tool or Search Tips.