Skip to Main Content
Nova southeastern University logo Martin and Gail Press Health Professions Division Library Logo

Research Tips: Keyword

Truncate Root Words

Truncation allows you to search any ending on a root word.

For example, if your topic uses the word teenagers, then you may also want to search:

  • teen
  • teens
  • teenager


The root word is teen.

To truncate and search teen with any ending type: teen*

  • The asterisk at the end of the root word tells the database to search for that word with any ending.
  • This expands your search to find more articles.
  • Some databases use the dollar sign or question mark as truncation symbols instead of the asterisk.  Check the Help section if you are searching in an unfamiliar database.



Use truncation carefully.  You may end up with variations that you didn't anticipate and therefore increasing your results with irrelevant records.


Phrase search when you want to search for words together in the order in which you've entered them.

  • Enter phrases within quotation marks.This will force the database to search the words together.
  • Some database automatically search for phrases, while others do not.  Check the Help section of any unfamiliar database.


Phrase Example: "hearing aids"


  • Keep in mind that phrase searching doesn't always yield the best results.
  • Even though you may think of a topic as a phrase, the author may not.
  • If you searched a phrase and you think that you should have more results, use AND between your search terms instead of phrase searching.


For Example:

"pediatric brain cancer"                   Search results 16

pediatric AND "brain cancer"           Search results 64

pediatric AND brain AND cancer      Search results 6544


Proximity Searching

Proximity Searching

This is similar to phrase searching but broader. Instead of requiring the words to be right next to each other, you are instructing the database to search for the words near each other. How near?  That is up to you.

Proximity searching varies slightly by database/vendor. 

EBSCO databases

n# (speech n3 therapy)

ProQuest databases:

NEAR/#   (speech NEAR/3 therapy)




Does not offer proximity searching