ISEE 350 Engineering Management: Search Techniques

Search Tools

Technique What it Does Example
Truncation — adding a symbol to the root of the word to retrieve related terms and variant endings for the root term. Some databases have left- and right-hand truncation. Expands your search structur* finds structure, structuring, structures, etc. *elasticity will find elasticity, aeroelasticity, viscoelasticity
Boolean AND — retrieves only those records containing all your search terms Narrows your search finite AND element AND methods
Boolean OR — retrieves records containing any of your search terms; especially useful for synonyms, alternate spellings, or related concepts Broadens your search energy OR fuel pollut* OR contaminat* sulfur OR sulphur
Boolean NOT, AND NOT — attempts to exclude a term that is not useful or relevant Narrows your search "Advanced Materials" AND composite NOT wood

Proximity — retrieves terms within a specified distance of one another; variations of proximity searches are phrase searches, where the terms must be retrieved exactly as entered; NEAR, ADJACENT, WITH, and WITHIN searches. 

To use the proximity search, enclose your search terms in quotes and use the tilde (~) followed by a number.  The number indicates the maximum number of words you wish to allow between your search terms.

Narrows your search

"Styrenic Block Copolymers" (quotation marks ensure that the multiple-word term is searched as a phrase, but are not required for all databases).

"employee engagement"~5

finds material where "employee" and "engagement" appear within 5 words of each other.

NOTE: proximity searching does not take the order of search terms into account. A search on "employee engagement strategies"~5 will yield results in which the three search terms appear in various orders.

Parentheses ( ) — groups terms with Boolean for more complex searches Combines searches "mechanical engineering" AND (handbook OR dictionary)


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