Truncation / wild cards

Truncation is a searching technique used in databases in which a word ending is replaced by a symbol.

Frequently used truncation symbols include the asterisk (*), a question mark (?) or a dollar sign ($).

Different databases use different truncation symbols so it is important to check the database 'Help' information or 'Search Tips' for details about which symbol to use.

Truncation enables different forms of a word to searched for simultaneously, and will increase the number of search results found.

For example: ( If the truncation symbol is *), then the truncated word,  laugh*, will search for results containing laugh, laughter, laughing etc.

wom*n =women, woman

Note: Placing the truncation symbol too soon in a word should be avoided. 

For example: hum* will search for results containing humour, but it will also retrieve unrelated terms like human, humbug, humerus, hummus etc.

Searching exact phrases

We use quotation marks when we are searching for an exact phrase or a given form of a word. For example: searching for the phrase "to be or not to be"; without the quotation marks the database is seraching each word separately.

Narrowing the search (limit)

Most of the databases offers limits, such as year of publication, language, etc., to narrow the search. Nowadays limits can be set after the inital search is done. Databases use different limits depending on the nature of the database and the type of documents they hold.

Advanced search
In case we have more information about the item we are searching for, we should use the advanced search option. Data are stored in databases in different fields (e.g. author, title, publisher). Advanced search option allows search in a specific field or in various fields at the same time. Through the definition of the serach field we ensure greater relevance of the results.

Using subject words and theasurus

Database records have subject headings connected to them. Descriptors are chosen from a set vocabulary. Depending on the content, several various subject headings  can be attached to the records, and the same descriptor can describe various records.

 In a thesaurus the logical and conceptional relations between entries are also shown. We can narrow the search by jumping between the levels of the subject headings.

Last modified: Tuesday, 22 March 2022, 3:51 PM