What's in this article:
- How to narrow a search with advanced techniques: Truncation, wildcards and proximity searching
- Researchers of all kinds, but especially those new to search who want to narrow their results
Truncation: Stuff you can do with the Tilde symbol
You can find words with spellings similar to your search term by using the tilde (~) symbol at the end of a search term.
In the example above, search results include items with dostoyevsky in the item title field, as well as variant spellings such as dostoevsky, dostoievski, dostoevsky, dostoyevski, dostoevskii, dostoevski, etc.
Note: This way of searching encompasses a very large number of words. Narrowing this kind of search to the item title or another field is recommended. The first letter always remains the same.
Wildcard: not just a description of your weird uncle
Wildcards take the place of one or more characters in a search term. A question mark (?) is used for single character searching. An asterisk (*) is used for multiple character searching.
Wildcards are used to search for alternate spellings and variations on a root word. Wildcard characters cannot be used in place of the first letter of a word or within an exact phrase search, and word roots must contain at least three letters preceding a wildcard. For example:
The query wom?n finds the words woman, women, womyn, etc
The query bird* finds bird, birding, birdman, birds, and other words that start with bird
The query organi?ation finds organization or organisation
The query behavior* finds the words behavior, behavioral, behaviorist, behaviorism, behaviorally, etc
You can combine search terms containing wild cards (wom?n AND "science education") and they may be used in a field search: au:sm?th or ti:shakespeare*
Note: Use the Library of Congress's three letter MARC language codes to limit the results to content in a specific language.
JSTOR search allows you to find terms that are within a set number of words of each other. In Basic Search, use the tilde (~) symbol followed by a number to set the desired proximity.
In this example, your search will return results with the terms debt and forgiveness within ten words of each other.
In Advanced Search, use the Boolean drop-down boxes to combine search terms with NEAR 5/10/25. The NEAR operator looks for the combinations of keywords within 5, 10, or
25 words places of each other.
The NEAR operator only works when searching for single keyword combinations. For example, you may search for cat NEAR 5 dog, but not "domesticated cat" NEAR 5 dog.
You may increase the importance of any term in your search by using the caret (^) symbol followed by a number that represents the rise in relevance.
In the example of migration^7 geese, an occurrence of the word migration in an item is seven times more important than the word geese.
And thus you are enlightened search-wise. YOU'RE WELCOME.