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Chemistry: Search Tips

This guide will assist Chemistry students.

Search Strategies

Search Limiters

Most databases have search limiters that can help you focus your search. Look for these limiters on the search page or on your search results (left-hand column generally).

Limiters typically include publication/manuscript type (research articles, review articles) and publication year. You may also be able to limit by journal title, author, or subject. 

Creating Search Terms and Phrases

Remember to search for all names of a chemical! You can check TOXNET!

These search strategies work well in most databases, except SciFinder Scholar. 

Boolean connectors- use AND, OR, NOT (sometimes AND NOT) to connect two or more search terms:

  • AND finds all records with all of your search terms and narrows your search
  • OR finds all records with one or more of your search terms and broadens your search
  • NOT or AND NOT is used to exclude the following term and can help to focus a search where one term has different meanings or uses (e.g., Mexico NOT "New Mexico")

Phrases in Quotes - most databases and web search engines allow you to search for exact phrases by placing them in quotes:

  • "carbon footprint"

Truncation - the library catalog and most databases use special characters to make searching easier in certain situations. Check the help screens in the catalog or database you are using to see what the special characters are for that resource.

  • the asterisk * is often used to stand for multiple endings on a word (singular, plural, etc.): vot* finds vote, voter, voters
  • wildcards are similar, but replace another character in a word: wom?n in the library catalog finds both woman and women

Nesting - use parentheses to sort out the elements of a more complex Boolean search phrase, especially when you may want to search for more than one related term for one element of your phrase:

  • (carbon OR ecological) AND footprint
  • ("hip hop" OR rap) AND culture