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Database Searching: Phrases

Description:

Information on how to build searches based upon exact phrases.

Phrase Searching

Most databases allow you to specify that adjacent words be searched as exact phrases. Using parentheses or quotation marks around search words is a common way to do phrase searching.  Be sure to check the Help screens to find out how to do phrase searching in the database you're using.

Example:  "health services research"

Keep in mind...

  • Different databases interpret searches differently. A common variation is how databases recognize phrases.
  • Some assume that words typed next to each other should be searched as phrases.
  • Others automatically put a Boolean AND between your search terms, requiring that all the words be present, but not necessarily adjacent to each other.
  • These searches can retrieve very different results.

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