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Dialog Solutions: Search Syntax

Learn more about the Dialog Solutions and the Dialog platform

PQ Dialog Search Syntax QRC

Boolean or Logical Operators

Logical Operators, also known as Boolean, are more frequently and easily used to combine more than one search term.


boolean "AND" diagram    AND

Use AND to narrow a search and retrieve records containing all of the words linked by it, 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 linked by it, 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 contain the first term, but 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.

Field searching

More precision can be added to the search by limiting the search terms to specific fields, such as Title, Author, Publication Title, Publication Date, etc by which the records are broken down (indexed).

The Search Field drop down menu in Advanced Search can be the first help in finding which are the search fields for a given database.

Advanced Search logo

Advanced Search Field menu

 

For Command Line search the search using fields follows this syntax:  

FIELDLABEL(search term)            

Eg. TI(ALONG THE RIVER)   

to search in the Title field

For even more in depth information refer to the ProSheets, the PQDialog  database guides.

Search Tips

Learn about the system search features and how to use special characters and operators to enhance your search.AND boolean operator diagram

 

See also the Search Syntax Quick Reference Card here on the Left for a portable pdf document summarizing all the features listed in this page

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).
  • LINGUISTICS 1 - 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.
  • LINGUISTICS 1 - 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 and other Symbols

   *

The asterisk (*) is the Truncation character, used to replace one or more characters. The truncation character can be used at the beginning (left-hand), end (right-hand), or in the middle of a word. The maximum number of characters that can be replaced is 10. 

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.

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"


   ?

The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, either inside or at the left or right end of the word.

Example: Searching for t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc.
Searching for advert??? will find advertISE but not advertS or advertISING


      -

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


Please Note: When using the asterisk (*) or wildcard (?) in your search, any terms retrieved using either or these are not considered when sorting your results based on relevance. This is because there is no way for ProQuest Dialog 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 or 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 operators can be used in combination or in alternative to the Logical Operators to add precision to the search.

NEAR/#  OR  N/#

Finds documents where the search terms are separated by up to a max # of intervening words in any order.
Note: If you do not specify a number, a default value of 4 words will be applied. i.e. NEAR = NEAR/4
Example: computer NEAR/3 careers                                    ....careers in the computer industry......

PRE/#  OR  P/#

Finds documents where the search terms are separated by up to a max # of intervening words in the specified order.
Note: If you do not specify a number, a default value of 4 words will be applied.   i.e. PRE = PRE/4

Example: "business management" PRE/1 education               business management high 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: EXACT(“higher education”) in the Subject field
will retrieve documents with the subject term "higher education"  but will not retrieve:documents with the subject terms of “higher education administration”, “women in higher education”, etc.


Please note: PRE and NEAR will always be considered operators. If they need to be processed as search terms, must be put between double quotes.

"NEAR" P/1 THE P/0 RIVER    will retrieve the phrase NEAR THE LARGE RIVER

NEAR THE RIVER    will generate an error message saying:   We can't interpret your search. Invalid use of a search operator.

Operators Order of Processing and Precedence

The ProQuest Dialog search system 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, the system will combine them in this order: PRE, NEAR, AND, OR, NOT.

This order can be changed putting terms between parentheses, which means that the complete order of preference is actually:

                             ( )
                           PRE
                           NEAR
                           AND
                           OR
                           NOT

For instance, a search like this:          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

Parentheses can be used to control the order in which your search terms are combined, instead of using the standard operator precedence.

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)