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Public Health Database: ProQuest Platform Search Tips

Public Health Database is the ideal starting point for public health information for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals, delivering core public health literature with centralized access to high quality full-text publications, including ext

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, we will combine them in this order: NEAR, PREAND, OR, NOT.

For instance, a search on education AND elementary NOT secondary would be interpreted as (education AND elementary) NOT secondary. So in this case, (education AND elementary) is considered first.

This search will return results regarding education with information on elementary but not secondary education.You can also use parentheses to control the order in which your search terms get combined, instead of using the standard operator precedence.The use of parentheses and Boolean operators in combination is perfectly acceptable.

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 Tips

  • Use quotation marks (“”) to search for exact phrases.
  • Two word queries such as advertising campaigns are searched as an implicit AND
  • Use special characters and operators to focus queries.
  • 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). This default is determined by your ProQuest administrator and the preference can also be chosen in the account preferences section of your My Research account. Please see the My Research section of this guide for additional information on creating a My Research account and changing preferences.
  • 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 and between English and older English versions of a given word such as sing and syng when appropriate. This default is determined by your ProQuest administrator and the preference can also be chosen in the account preferences section of your My Research account. Please see the My Research section of this guide for additional information on creating a My Research account and changing preferences.
  • 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 Lemmatization to be applied to your search, enter your term in quotation marks " ". This default is determined by your ProQuest administrator and the preference can also be chosen in the account preferences section of your My Research account. Please see the My Research section of this guide for additional information on creating a My Research account and changing preferences.

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.

Example: Searching for econom* will find economy, economics, economical, etc.

  ?

The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, either inside or at the right end of the word.
The wildcard character cannot be used to begin a word.

Example: Searching for t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc.
Searching for ad??? will find added, adult, adopt

  -

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

Example: YR(2005-2008)

Proximity Operators

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

NEAR/#

OR

n/#

Finds documents where these words are within some number of words of each other (either before or after).
Note: You must specify a number or “near” will be treated as a search term, rather than an operator.

Example: computer NEAR/3 careers

PRE/#

OR

p/#

Finds documents where these words are within some number of words of each other in the specified order.
Note: If you do not specify a number, a default value of 4 words will be applied.

Example: business management PRE/5 education

EXACT

OR

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