Connectors (AND, OR, NOT)
The asterisk (*) replaces any number of characters and will find all forms of a word root. For example, "therap*" will find therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, therapeutically, etc.
The pound sign (#), or hashtag, replaces extra characters that may appear in alternative spellings. For example, "colo#r" finds both color and colour.
The question mark (?) replaces one character. For example, "ne?t" finds neat, nest, or next, but will not find net.
Searching academic databases is a bit different from using Google or a search engine. Here are few tricks and tips.
Let's say, you're researching the way women talk to their doctors. This is great topic, but if you just type the phrase -- "The way women talk to their doctors" -- into an academic database, you'll get poor results. Instead, you need to brainstorm key terms and think of solid nouns that describe your topic.
Create Specific Terms and Use Synonyms
Here are ways you can break down this topic:
Connect your keywords and phrases with AND, OR, or NOT
The connectors AND, OR, and NOT tell the database how to look up your terms. See the column to the left for explanations on how to use them.
Here's an example of a good search, built with solid search terms:
Subject Terms are Your Friends
When you find a good article, look at the subject terms (also called subject headings). These are tags or labels that an expert assigned to the article that sum up what it's about. Some databases also include author-supplied keywords. These terms are often linked and will lead to similar articles, providing you with even better results.
Here's what subject terms look like in EBSCO databases: