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Information Literacy Research Skill Building: Advanced Searching Techniques

This guide contains information literacy instructional materials based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

Advanced Searching Techniques

Week 10 - Advanced Searching Techniques

Truncation is very useful in searching databases. Instead of just searching one term related to our
topic, it can search terms that contain the same root word. Truncation symbols vary among databases,
but most commonly you will find these symbols used:

* (or **), #, !.

Here is an example of a truncated search term: advert*

Here is another example of a truncated search term: pharm*

1. What would happen if we formed a search query with these two truncated terms???

advertis* AND pharm* we would receive about the same results as if we searched under advertisement AND pharmacies
we would receive a much narrower number of hits than if we searched under advertisement AND pharmacies
we would receive a much broader number of hits than if we searched under advertisement AND pharmacies


2. Which terms below would search query advertis* match?
advertise, advertised, advertiser
advertisement, advertisements, advertising
both A. and B.


3. You should be careful WHERE you truncate a search term, and know what you are looking for.
Which search query below would probably be best to use for finding information on hospital insurance?


hos* AND ins*
hospit* AND insur*
hospit* AND insu*


4. What types of results would you be likely to see if you used the search term:

hospit* and insu* records with references to hospitalization and insulation
records with references to hospitable insurance salesmen
both A. and B. are possible


5. Proximity operators are another means by which you can focus your search. Proximity operators
tell the computer how close together you want your two (or more) search terms to be.

PsycInfo, the database indexing psychological literature, uses a W to indicate a proximity relationship
between two search terms. The W is followed by a numeral indicating the number of words which can
appear between your two earch terms. For example:

FirstSearchTerm W3 SecondSearchTerm

Which of the selections below would this search phrase retrieve:

hospit* W3 insur*

.”..hospitalizing and insuring this type of illness is very expensive ..”
“...hospitals are in no position to refuse patients without insurance...”
both A and B are possible


6. If you were looking for information related to advertising strategies in Western Europe for flower
sales, which query would probably work the best?

(flor* OR flower) AND advertis* w5 (Western Europe OR Germany OR Great Britain)
(flor* OR flower) AND advertising strategies in Western Europe
both A and B would work about the same


7. When you construct a more complex search query, make sure that you understand the logic of it.
Until you get skilled and feel comfortable with composing these queries, it's best to keep them short
and concise.
Which of the search strings below do you think is is probably too muddy and
long to work very well?

(teacher OR professor OR lecturer) W6 private schools AND salary
teaching profession W5 salary AND income OR pay stub W5 private schools
(teacher OR professor) AND (income OR salary) AND (private schools)


Score =
Correct answers:

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