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General searching techniques: Home

Resources for research in Evolution & the Behavior of the Sexes

Getting Started -- Searching Tips

Basic search logic:  These tips can be used in most databases or search engines:

Most search engines automatically default to "anded" keyword searching.

Quotations to get exact phrases:  "sex roles"

Asterisk to truncate words:  chimp*  to retrieve all the words that begin with the letters chimp, This will retrieve chimp, chimps, chimpanzee(s).  Note that it also substitutes for the lack of a letter:  colo*r. An example from Web of Science: odo$r

Question mark to substitute for a single character wom?n  (And the truncation symbol for the "Main Catalog" at Princeton.

Boolean LogicAND (limits) OR (expands) NOT (eliminates)

Graphic Organizer: Concept Map

Capitalization:  When in doubt, capitalize the operator OR, also NOTAND is the usual default in searching.

Nesting, using parentheses, with Boolean logic:  [ (chimpanzees OR macaques)  mate choice ]

In Web of Science you may use a proximity function:  mate NEAR/5 choice  (words withing 5 of each other)

Examples of proximity from Scopus (Elsevier): "within" W/n; "precedes by"PRE/n

  • pain W/15 morphine finds articles in which "pain" and "morphine" are no more than 15 terms apart.
  • behavioural PRE/3 disturbances finds articles in which "behavioural" precedes "disturbances" by three or fewer words.

General order of processing operations:  (Most restrictive to most expansive)

  1. NEAR/x
  2. SAME
  3. NOT
  4. AND
  5. OR

Our subscription databases have tips and help.

Reference Librarian profile

Louise Deis
Peter B. Lewis (Science) Library, Rm. 211


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