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Research Guides@Tufts

Advanced Searching Techniques

What's in a Search Query?

All the operators and shortcuts presented in this research guide are viable only with an Advanced Search.  While the Basic Search runs on Natural Language Processing, Advanced Search uses command line syntax and notation.  These include the Boolean Operators, Wildcard and Truncation as well as Limits.

When combined with your search terms, field notations and the Boolean, Wildcard and Truncation commands, you can structure a query that is easily replicable and editable.

or a more detailed description of advanced searching techniques in Ovid, including Command Line Syntax, refer to Ovid's Resource Center.  While use of Command Line Syntax is not absolutely required by Ovid's Advanced Search, it could be worthwhile to learn shortcut commands to bypass use of the icon bar.

Advanced Searching in Ovid

To execute a search:


   Select a search type. In this example, Keyword is used. Advanced Searching mode in Ovid allows for    the following  search types: Keyword, Author, Title, Journal, Book Name


   Type a term or phrase, depending on the search type you selected

   Click the Search button





Limits restrict search results to selected criteria.  The most commonly used limits are listed on OvidSP's main search page.  Check one or more and click Search to restrict the results of your last set. Enter the set number and do likewise to limit an earlier set.

  • Limits on both the Main Search page and the More Limits page are combined with AND.
  • Check Review Articles for surveys of the literature with extensive bibliographies
  • Check Local Holdings to restrict your results to journals held or provided electronically by Tufts libraries
  • On the Additional Limits page, Ovid combines limits within the boxes with OR.
    • Select several limits in a box with Ctrl+click.

Ovid Operators

Ovid processes search queries from left to right.  To specify precedence, enclose terms and operators in parentheses within your search statement.  You can nest and combine a search statement with the following Boolean operators:


 retrieves any or all of the search terms [Example: heart attack OR myocardial infarction]

AND  retrieves records with only both search terms [Example: blood pressure AND stroke]
NOT excludes second term, only retrieves records for first [Example: health reform NOT health policy]
ADJ searches for words adjacent to each other and only separated by a single space [Example: blood pressure or bloodADJpressure]
ADJn searches for terms that are a specified number (n) spaces away from each other [Example: physician adj5 relationship]
FREQ specify a term's threshold of occurrence in the records retrieved.  The syntax for this is "x.fd./freq=n" where fd is the 2 letter field name, and n is the frequency. [Example: ]



Truncation and Wildcards

   Use * , $ , or : at the end of a word, or part    of a    word to retrieve unlimited suffix    variations    [Example: disease* for    diseases, diseased, etc]
   Use # on the inside or at the end of a word    to replace exactly one character [Example:    wom#n]
   Use ? inside or at the end of a word to    replace    zero or one character [Example:    robot?]

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