Library Website: Research & Referencing - How Can I Use Advanced Search Tools?

 How can I use advanced search tools?

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Find Articles & Journals

Use the advanced search option of the Library's article database to find academic, professional, and reliable articles directly related to your research topic.

Advanced search terms can be structured by adding or excluding words from your search using the "AND", "OR", and NOT dropdown options. These refine your searches by: 

  • AND: Combines both words used in the search boxes.

For example, searching for:
dog AND cat
Will retrieve articles that contain both terms, narrowing the number of results retrieved.

  • OR: Searches for either, or both, terms used in the search boxes.

For example, searching for
dog OR cat
Will retrieve articles that contain at least one term or both, increasing the number of results retrieved.

  • NOT: Removes a specific term from the result.

For example, searching for
dog NOT cat
Will retrieve articles that contain the word "dog", but do not include "cat", narrowing the number of results retrieved. 


You can also use the advanced search to select where your words appear. These are defined using the 'Fields' options. Useful fields include:

  • Author: To find articles written by a particular author/expert on your topic.
  • Title: To search for specific words that appear in the title of search results. 
  • Subject terms: To search for specific words that appear in the subject list of search results. 
  • Journal title/source: To search within a specific journal. 
  • Abstract: To search for words that appear in the abstract (summary) of search results.  


Below is a screenshot of the Advanced Search screen. Hover your mouse over the interactive 'i' buttons to read more about each search option. 

There are also symbols that you can use with your keywords to perform truncated or wildcard searches to make your searches more efficient by expanding and refining searches in a database: 

Truncated searches: Uses an asterix (*) to represent one or more characters at the end of your search term. For example, a search for "comput*" would bring back results including computer, computing and computation. Use a truncated search when you want to broaden your search to include variations of a word. Truncated searches help you to search more efficiently because you won't have to individually search for every variation of the word. 

Wildcard searches (single character): Uses a question mark (?) to replace an unknown character. For example, a search for "wom?n" would return results for women and woman. This is also useful is searching for words with both English and American spellings, for example analyse/analyze. 

Wildcard searches (extra character): Uses a hash (#) where an alternate spelling of a word may contain an extra character. For example, a search for "colo#r" would return results including both color and colour. 


Troubleshooting Your Search

Database searching often involves some trial and error - don't be discouraged if you don't find exactly what you're looking for the first time you search. You may need to try different combinations of keywords, fields etc. before you find the perfect article. The table below has some solutions for some common difficulties you may encounter during your research: 

Issue Resolution
Very few/no results
  • Use less search terms
  • Use different field limiters
Too many results
  • Use more search terms
  • Add/use different field limiters
Results aren't relevant or at academic/professional standard
  • Select 'peer reviewed' option
  • Use more academic/professional language in search terms
  • Use quotation marks ("") if searching for a phrase
No results
  • Check spelling
  • Broaden search (Use 'OR' button, or reduce search terms search in full text of article instead of title/subject)


Google Search Shortcuts

Google has a number of search shortcuts that can make it quicker and easier to find the information you need. Here are 5 Google search shortcuts that will help you save time and be more productive in your searches: 


Shortcut Used for Example
Quotation Marks Searching for an exact phrase "To be or not to be" 
Dash Remove words from your search animals -donkey
Tilde   Search for similar words/synonyms canine ~wolf
Colon Search within a particular website or domain
Full stops Search within a certain range (price, measurement, date) chatbot technology 2017..2018


Google Advanced Search

Google also has an Advanced Search option that allows you to combine a variety of search options.


Here's a short clip clarifying how to use "Boolean operators"; the "AND", "OR", and "NOT" search term options. 

Learning Lounge Modules

 Build Your Skills Here

Click on the following images to widen your understand using our Learning Lounge modules. 

How do I use Google Advanced Search?                              

 Further Reading