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ProQuest Platform

Search Defaults - Linguistics


  • 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"


  • 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).
  • Variants searching (across the whole platform)
    • Spelling variants enable the search engine to recognize and match differences in spelling between the 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 plurals and comparative and superlative adjectives. For example, searching for mouse will also produce hits on mice. Searching on tall will also produce hits on tallest.

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

Please note: putting terms within the quotation marks " "  temporarily deactivates the Variants searching.

Curly brackets operator { }:

  • To search an exact phrase and keep the Variants searching active, include the phrase within the quotation marks " " and the newest operator, curly brackets { }.

    Compare “advertising campaign”   with   “{advertising campaign}”

Truncation, Wildcard, and Range Search


The asterisk (*) is the truncation symbol, 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. Please note: Exact quotes plus the truncation on a single word don’t work with "econom*" the truncation won’t execute.

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

*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.


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(2015-2018)

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

     Example: YR(>2018) will locate documents published after 2018.

Proximity Operators

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



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.



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 and also pre-world-war        

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



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".

It will not retrieve documents with the subject terms “higher education administration”, “women in higher education”, etc.

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:


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)