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Advanced Library Research Techniques: Site Searches, Wildcards, Boolean Searches & Truncation

This guide will help you improve your research skills and develop expertise in evaluating, comparing, and selecting reliable and credible sources of information.



This goal of this guide is to assist  you in finding information during your research to make the  process better, faster and smarter.



Site Searches

In text Searches

Get Research Delivered


Get Research Delivered

Do you want a Research Assistant to find articles and book reviews for you?  Your wish is granted!!!

The majority of our electronic databases that the library subscribes to offer personalized features that can save searches, run searches for you and send the results to an email address or RSS feed reader daily, weekly or monthly.  You may also give a persistent link to that search.

Steps (using Academic Search Complete database)

  1. Create an account (free of charge) (click on sign in)

  2. Sign in and start searching

  3. When you retrieve the desired results, click Share (under share, you will have options: alerts, save or share)


Is it a Database or Website?

Libraries purchase databases which index journal articles and often provide full-text copies of those articles.  Although purchased databases are accessed through the internet, they are not "internet sources" or "websites."  Sources other than licensed databases are freely available via Google or other search engines.

Boolean Operator "AND"

Boolean operators consist of AND, OR, NOT, which are used to restrict searches in different ways.

The Boolean operator "AND" is used to join separate search terms together in order to find information that contains both search terms.

For example, if the search terms  "education reform" AND  "Texas" were to be searched, only results containing both search terms will appear.


search box Boolean AND

Boolean Operator "OR"

The Boolean operator "OR" is used between two separate search terms in order to find any information on either search term.

For, example, if the search term "education reform" OR the search term "Texas"  were to be searched, all results containing either search term will appear.

searchbox Boolean OR example

Boolean Operator "NOT"

The Boolean operator "NOT" is used to specify which search term you want to exclude from the information you are searching.

For example, if the search terms "education reform" NOT "Texas" were to be searched, only "education reform" results not containing "Texas" will appear.

search box Boolean NOT operator


Truncation allows you to search various forms of a word by finding alternate endings.

The wildcard character is placed at the end of the first few letters of a search term or at the end of its root. A root is the base or most simplified form of a word.

searchbox truncation example

For example, using the search terms " medical diagnosis amb* "  may find information containing "ambulatory", "amblyopia", "ambient" relating to medical or diagnosis resources.

Each database or database provider utilizes different wildcard characters and may have restrictions such as searching no less than 3 letters to achieve results.


You can add special symbols called "wildcards" (* or ?) to a search term in order to receive more results.

Often times this is used if a you're not familiar with a spelling, a word has multiple spellings, or you're trying to recall specific information.

Different search tools, databases, and database providers utilize different wildcard characters

One or No Character Wildcard Searches

Some database providers such as Gale, have an option to search one or no unknown characters.

Gale - One or No Characters

For example, the search above will result in all occurances of "flavour" or "flavor".

This means that the wildcard character either represents a letter or no letter at all.