How do I use "advanced search" in a database?


When looking for scholarly sources, we recommend searching in one of the Library’s databases. Databases are collections of scholarly sources, usually peer-reviewed articles. To find the best database for your topic, use one of our Subject Guides and check out the “Key Resources” box. 

When searching in a database, you can use the Advanced Search to make your search results more relevant to your topic. Here are four strategies to find better results with Advanced Search:

Broaden or Narrow your search with Boolean Operators

Broaden or narrow your search by linking together two or more terms using connectors like AND, OR, and NOT.

AND narrows a search. When you combine two keywords with AND, you get fewer results because both words must be present in the results found. Use AND to combine different concepts in one search:

e.g. computer AND history

OR broadens a search; you get more results because OR looks for each of the words separately, as well as all words when found together. OR is often used to link together related words:

e.g. teenager OR youth OR adolescent.

NOT narrows your search; you get fewer results because it excludes terms from your search:

e.g. Pluto NOT Disney

Group Concepts using Brackets

Use brackets (also called parentheses) to group concepts when you use two or more connectors. Like in a math formula, the search engine will search for the keywords in the brackets before the rest of the keywords:

e.g. alcohol AND (adolescents OR teenagers)

This search will retrieve results on alcohol and adolescents, as well as records on alcohol and teenagers. 

Use a Truncation Character to Save Time

Adding a truncation character to the stem of a word will tell the search engine to find that stem plus anything that comes after it.

e.g. child* will return results that contain child, childhood, and children

Truncation saves you time when searching, since you don't have to search for child, childhood, and children separately.  

You can sometimes use truncation in the middle of a word, too.

e.g. wom*n or wom$n will return records that contain women and woman

Tip: The specific symbol used for truncation varies by database. Check the help feature of the specific database you're using to find out if truncation is supported and what symbol to use.

Use Quotation Marks to Find Phrases

When you want specific words to appear together in your search results, put quotation marks around the words. The database will then search for the words as a phrase, instead of searching for the words individually:

e.g. "women in advertising"


  • Last Updated Apr 19, 2022
  • Views 47
  • Answered By RDP Library

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