Search Strategies

Use the chart below to guide you in developing effective search expressions.

Boolean Operator
Strategy/Function Example


Use to combine different terms and narrow the search. Produces FEWER results each time a term is added with AND. nursing AND medication AND dilution
OR Use this operator to combine similar, or optional terms, and broaden the search. Search for either term. Most often using OR produces MORE results. child* OR pediatric
NOT Use to specify a term you do not want in the search results.  nurse AND collaboration NOT administration
Truncation (*) - Using an Asterisk Searches the ROOT of a word ended with *. 
The asterisk (*) wildcard, also known as the truncation wildcard, is generally used to find word endings. Enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with the asterisk (*)


Finds results with nurse, nurses, nursing, nursed

Use fewer concepts/terms Increases number of results. pediatric AND medication
Use more concepts/terms Decreases number of results. pediatric AND medication AND ( negative OR problem)
Phrase search Use quotation marks to search and exact phrases. "nursing management" AND "patient education"

Searching with Boolean Operators

A Boolean Operator is a word that communicates search functions to a computer.

AND, OR, and NOT are the Boolean operators used in searching databases to combine search terns and search more efficiently.

AND will produces results that contain BOTH terms.
Yields results that have both terms, "healing" and "Gospels."

Boolean operators

OR produces results that contain EITHER term.
Yields all results with "healing," all results with "Gospels.".

Boolena operator

NOT results include the first term(s), but eliminates any results with the term following NOT.
For example, healing NOT Gospels, generates results with the term "healing" that do not have the term "Gospel."

Using Advanced Search

EBSCO databases provide limiters and other options on the Advanced Search. After you perform a search, limiters are listed in the left sidebar.

In an EBSCO database, such as MEDLINE or CINAHL:

  1. Click the Advanced Search link below the find boxes.
  2. Enter your terms in the text boxes on the Advanced Search screen. (As needed, choose a different search field from the optional Select a Field drop-down list)
  3. Choose and mark the search limiters, such as Evidence-Based Practice, Publication Type, Age Groups, Geographic Subset, Clinical Queries, and more.
  4. Click the Search button to display the results.