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Integrative Biology

This guide is designed to help researchers in integrative biology navigate library and information-related resources.

General Search Tips

Advanced Tips for Searching a Literature Database

Advanced search features are relatively consistent across databases. In most literature databases, the following tips can benefit you in designing a search strategy... 

1.) Break down your search query into concepts and search each concept on a separate search bar. These search bars are separated by the boolean term AND. This will connect the search concepts and indicate the order of operations in a complex search. 


2.) Use the boolean operator OR to string together synonyms or related terms for each concept...


3.) Use truncation. (When appropriate.) Adding an * (asterisk) to the end of a word will include alternate endings of that word. Similarly, removing several letters at the end of a word and including the * (asterisk) will find alternate stems of that word. For example, genom* will include genome genomic, genomics, genomically, etc.

4.) Use quotation marks around concepts that include more than one word to force those words to be next to each other and in that order. 


5.) Use proximity operators to force a relationship between two terms (or strings of terms). This can help create a search that includes different description choices of the same concept.  In the Web of Science Databases, this search function needs to be performed in the Topic field. *Non-Web of Science databases differ in the way you write proximity operators. For example,

Ebsco databases: (reproductive N/2 variation)

PubMed: "reproductive variation"[Title/Abstract:~2]

ProQuest databases: reproductive Near/2 variation

6.) Specify the search fields you want. Many databases have a default search location set to "All fields." If you are doing a literature search, you should consider specifying to only search article content-based fields. For example: Web of Science databases default to "All fields," changing this directive to Topic will eliminate some of the noise in the relevance of your search.  Each of the available fields varies based on the database. 



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