Curtin Singapore
Curtin Singapore

Library search techniques

Use these search techniques to find the information you’re looking for.

Analyse the subject by asking yourself:

Identify the keywords and understand the keywords or concept and what it means to you by:

Using Boolean logic, “AND”, “OR” & “NOT”

Example: I want to find information on how home schooling affects development

KEYWORDS CONCEPTS BOOLEAN SEARCH
Home schooling Home schooling home schooling AND socialisation

home schooling AND social development

home schooling AND social skill

home schooling AND socialisation OR social development

home schooling AND socialisation OR social development OR social skill

home schooling AND socialisation NOT social skill, etc.

Social development Socialisation or Social development or Social skill

To search for consecutive keywords, you MUST USE inverted commas ” ” or it will search for each keyword separately.

Using truncation

Truncation allows searching from root form of words to different endings. Enter a minimum of three letters of the word followed by a recognised symbol e.g. an asterisk *

Example: politic* will retrieve politics, political, politically, politician, politicians.

It is important to know that the asterisk used in this example is NOT universal.

Different databases and search engines use different symbols for truncation. A few examples are:

politic* or politic? or politic+ or politic#.

Be careful where you truncate a word. Truncating a word incorrectly will retrieve unwanted matches.

Using wildcard characters

Wildcards allow you to find a word or phrase using an asterisk (*) or question mark (?) to represent any other character that may appear in the same place. They can be used to replace one or many alphabetic characters in the search. The asterisk (*), stands for any character or characters, and the questions mark (?), stands for a single character. Wildcard characters are not permissible at the beginning of a word. When using wildcard characters, two alphanumeric characters must be used before the wildcard. The fields that are exceptions to this rule include Last Name, First Name and City. In these instances, wildcards can be used as the second character.

Some examples:

Dav?d = David, Davis-Floyd
Sm?th=Smith, Smyth