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ERIC: ProQuest Platform Search Tips

A guide to all aspects of ERIC including content, searching, and viewing results on the ProQuest platform.

Boolean Operators

  boolean "AND" diagram    AND

Use AND to narrow a search and retrieve records containing all of the words it separates, e.g. adolescents AND children  will only find records containing both these words.


 

 boolean "OR" diagram     OR

 

Use OR to broaden a search and retrieve records containing any of the words it separates, e.g.adolescents OR children  will find records containing adolescents only, children only, or both words.


 boolean "NOT" diagram   NOT

Use NOT to narrow a search and retrieve records that do not contain the term following it, e.g. adolescents NOT children will find records that contain adolescents, but will not contain the word children.

Operator Precedence

ProQuest assumes your search terms should be combined in a certain order. If you include operators such as AND and OR in the same search string, they will be processed in this order:

PRE, NEAR AND, OR, NOT.

For instance, in a search on education AND elementary NOT secondary the combination education AND elementary is considered first, which is correct. This search will return results regarding education with information on elementary but not secondary level.

Parentheses can be used to control the order in which the search terms are combined, when the standard operator precedence would retrieve unintended results.

An example why parentheses are important: Searching for:  

dog OR cat AND food OR nutrition

will retrieve a certain number of documents which contain both CAT and FOOD, plus a certain number of documents which may contain either DOG or NUTRITION alone, thus including several potentially irrelevant documents

Considering the precedence order, the above search will be processed this way:      

dog OR (cat AND food) OR nutrition

In order to get the intended results, i.e. documents that contain either DOG or CAT, but also must contain either FOOD or NUTRITION, in any combination, use the parentheses to change the order:

(dog or cat) AND (food or nutrition)  

Stop Words

There are no stop words within the ProQuest platform. However, the natural language processing used by the search engine will naturally filter out certain “overabundant” words as being irrelevant.  While the number of times a term appears within a document does increase its relevance, this only works up to a certain point, at which time its relevance begins to decrease.

Search Defaults - Linguistics

SYSTEM SEARCH DEFAULTS

  • 2 or more words separated by space(s) such as advertising campaigns are searched with an implicit AND.
  • Put the words between quotation marks (“”) to search for exact phrases. ex "advertising campaigns"

DEFAULT SETTINGS THAT CAN BE CHANGED:

  • If a specific field is not entered with a search query, the default is to search across All Fields+ text (all indexed fields of the full record plus the full-text from ProQuest) or All Fields (no full text) (all indexed fields of the full record, but not including the full-text).
  •  Spelling variants enable the search engine to recognize and match differences in spelling between American and British versions of a given word such as humor vs. humour.
  • Lemmatization enables the search engine to recognize and match different grammatical forms of a word such as with plurals and adjectives. For example, searching for mouse will also produce hits on mice. Searching on tall will also produce hits on tallest.
  • If you do not want the spelling variants or the Lemmatization to be applied to your search, enter your term in quotation marks " ".

These defaults can be controlled by your ProQuest administrator. Users accessing My Research can also change these settings in the account Preferences section of your My Research account

Truncation, Wildcard, and Hyphen Characters

  

 

   *

 

The asterisk (*) is the Truncation character, used to replace one or more characters. The truncation character can be used at the end (right-hand truncation), or in the middle of a word. The maximum number of characters that will be retrieved is 5. 

Example: Searching for econom* will find economY, economICS, economICAL, etc.

Limited truncation: a number can be entered next to the asterisk to define how extensive the truncation should be. The max number supported is 20. This way the default limit of max 5 characters can be overcome.

Example: econom[*2] will find economY, economIC  but not economIST, i.e. will replace up to 2 characters only

An asterisk can also be used within the double quotes to account for the retrieval of plurals, for example. 

Example: "economic value*" can help retrieving also the plural "economic values"

(Please note: Exact quotes plus the truncation on a single word don’t work.

With "econom*" the truncation won’t execute). 

    ?

 

The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, either inside or at the right end of the word.  One single ? will retrieve only one more character, ?? won't retrieve less than 2 more characters, etc.

Example: Searching for t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc.

   -

Use a hyphen to indicate a range when searching numerical fields, such as Publication date.

Example: YR(2005-2008)

   <

   >

Use the less than or greater than symbols to indicate before/after or smaller/larger or less/more when searching numerical fields, such as the Publication date.

Example: YR(>2008) will located documents published after 2008

 

*Note: When using the asterisk (*) or wildcard (?) in your search, any terms retrieved using either of these are not considered when sorting your results based on relevance. This is because there is no way for ProQuest to assess the relevance of these terms to your research as the term itself is not exact. For example, your search on 'bio*' could return occurrences of any of all of these terms: 'bionic' or 'biosynthesis' or 'biodegrade' or 'biographic.' One, some, all, or none could be relevant to your search. 

Proximity Operators

Proximity and adjacency operators are used to broaden and narrow your search.

  

     NEAR/#
         n/#

Finds documents where the search terms are separated by up to a certain number of words of each other (either before or after).   Note: If you don't specify a number after the slash, NEAR will default to maximum 4 intervening words between terms

Example: computer NEAR/3 careers                

                computer and careers can be separated by up to 3 intervening words

                retrieves        career in the computer industry

  

      PRE/#
         p/#

Finds documents where the search terms are separated by up to a certain number of words of each other in the specified order.    Note: If you don't specify a number after the slash, PRE will apply a default value of max 4 intervening words .

Example: "business management" PRE education    =  "business management" PRE/4 education

               "pre" p/1 war      retrieves pre-war   but also   pre-world-war         

(Note: to search PRE or NEAR as search terms, put them between quotes.)

 

     EXACT
         .e

Used primarily for searching specific fields, like Subject, EXACT looks for your exact search term in its entirety, rather than as part of a larger term.

Example: EXACT(“higher education”) in the Subject field            SU.EXACT(“higher education”)
will retrieve documents with the subject term "higher education".
Will not retrieve:documents with the subject terms “higher education administration”, “women in higher education”, etc.