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Search Rules


Capitalization does not matter: use upper, lower, or mixed case. For example: AIDS, Aids, and aids

Boolean Search Operators

The use of Booleans (AND, OR, NOT, and SAME) will vary in each search field. For example, you can use AND in the Topic field, but not in the Publication Name field.

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Wildcards (* ? $) are supported in most search queries; however, the rules for using wildcards will vary.

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Phrase Searching

To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. For example, the query "energy conservation" will retrieve records that contain the exact phrase energy conservation. This applies only to Topic and Title searches.

If the phrase contains a stopword, then the search will find phrases that contain any word in the position of the stopword. For example, "patient undergoing radiation" will find patient undergoing radiation, patient receiving radiation, patient failing radiation, and so on.

If you enter a phrase without quotation marks, the search engine will retrieve records that contain all of the words you entered. The words may or may not appear close together. For example, energy conservation retrieves records containing the exact phrase energy conservation. It will also find records containing the phrase conservation of energy.

If you enter two words separated by a hyphen, period, or comma, then the term will be interpreted as an exact phrase. For example, the search term waste-water will find records containing the exact phrase waste-water or the phrase waste water. It will not match water waste, waste in drinking water, or water extracted from waste.

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Use parentheses to group compound Boolean statements. For example:

  • (Antibiotic OR Antiviral) AND (Alga* OR Seaweed)

  • (Pagets OR Paget's) AND (cell* AND tumor*)

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Apostrophes are treated as spaces, not searchable characters. Be sure to search for variants with no apostrophe. For example, Paget's OR Pagets finds records containing Paget's and Pagets.


Search for hyphenated words and phrases by entering the terms with the hyphen. For example, speech-impairment finds records containing speech-impairment and speech impairment.


Do not use field tags in search fields. The use of field tags is not supported and may cause unpredictable retrieval of results. If you wish to use field tags in your search, go to the Advanced Search page where field tags are allowed.

This help page last modified 5/29/2008