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Web of Science: Basic Search

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These words are known as Boolean Operators.

  • AND = all searched words in the results
  • OR = any of the searched words in the results

*Note: OR should be used for synonymous concepts. For example: children OR kids OR youth

  • NOT = word left out of results
  • NEAR = words a certain distance from each other in results finds results  

*Note: Use NEAR/x. x = number of words between search terms. 

For example: measles NEAR/4 outbreak will return results where "measles" and "outbreak" are no more than 4 words away from one another.


Wildcards are symbols you can use to represent letters to return more complete search results. They can be used at the beginning (left-hand truncation), middle or end (right-hand truncation) of a word in the Topic and Title fields and at the end of a search in the Author field.

  • (*) can be any number or characters including no character.

               Examples: *ball would find "beachball" "volleyball" "basketball" s*food would find "seafood" and "soyfood"; muse* would find "muses" "mused" and "museum"; a search for John* could find "John", "Johns", "Johnson", "Johnsons"

               Note: When using left or right-hand truncation you must enter at least three characters. So, *bio is a valid search, but *bi is not.

               Note: When used in author searches, you must enter at least two letters before the wildcard.

  • (?) can represent any one character

                Examples: wom?n would find "woman" and "women"

  • ($) can be zero or one character

                 Examples: grain$ would find "grain" and "grains"; colo$r would find "color" and "colour"

                  Note: You can not use the $ when searching in quotations

How to Conduct a Basic Search

  • Select from the fields topic, title, author as well as many others.
  • Use quotation marks to search words as a phrase.
  • Add a field to search multiple fields at once.
  • Capitalization does not matter when searching.
  • The order of precedence for search operators is: NEAR, NOT, AND, OR. You can use parentheses to override the default order.
  • If searching a phrase when using NEAR, be sure to put the phrase in quotation marks.‚Äč

Basic Search

Basic Search Screen


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