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Research Guides@Tufts

Advanced Searching Techniques

Introduction to Advanced Searching Techniques

In order to conduct a thorough search in a database search engine, you may need to use a combination of operators and search terms.  Researching within databases is an iterative process that is part art and part science.  Use of operators, search terms and keywords results in highly efficient research.

This research guide will help you construct search queries in the following databases:‚Äč

Searching Techniques 101

What is a Search Operator?

A search operator is a character or string of characters used in a search query to specify the type of actions you would like the database's search engine to perform.

Some of the most universal search operators across different databases are:


   A character is used within or at the end of the word to substitute for one character or no characters

Example: colo?r retrieves documents with the words color and colour



   Retrieves any number of characters after the word stem or no characters.

Example: disease$ retrieves documents with the word disease, as well as the diseases, diseased, etc.

Boolean Operators:


  Retrieves searches by combing terms with the use of words AND, NOT, and OR.  OR will help you gather synonyms,  use NOT to eliminate, & AND to require both (or all) factors.

Example: diet OR nutrition, cancer NOT diet, diet AND cancer


ffBound    Phrase:


  Retrieves searches for an exact match of the text with the use of quotation marks around the terms.

Example: "heart disease"

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