Databases use three primary operators to determine how you want your search to be run:
- OR will find synonyms
- AND will combine ideas
- NOT will exclude terms
- Use the asterisks (*) at the end of a word to search for multiple variations, but be sure your word isn't too short (e.g. cat*) as you'll get things you weren't looking for (catastrophe, caterpillar, catatonic, etc).
- Need to find a specific phrase? Use quotation marks to indicate the words must be found in that order:
- "stock trailer"
- "veterinary feed directive"
Nesting/order of operations
- Make sure to tell the database exactly how you want your search interpreted by using parentheses to put your synonyms (OR) terms together. For example:
- cattle OR cows OR bovine AND mastitis AND treatment
- this search would include some records that had all three terms (bovine, mastitis, treatment) among the thousands of items that just had the word cattle, or the word cows in them.
- (cattle OR cows OR bovine) AND mastitis AND treatment
- this search indicates that any one of the terms (cattle, cows, bovine) must be in the record, but it also has to include the term mastitis and the term treatment in order to be retrieved.