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Search Smarter: Finding information for the Health Sciences: Step 3: Truncation & Phrasing

A guide on how to find information for assignments and research in the Health arena.

What is truncation and phrase searching?

Truncation is the shortening of a keyword so that other keywords that start with the same group of letters (or stem) will be automatically retrieved. A symbol is used, often "*" or "?" or “$”, to command the database to truncate a term.

Phrase searching allows two or more words to be searched together without separating them. For example if we wanted to search for myocardial infarction, we often need to put double quotation marks (“ ”) around the phrase to force the database, catalogue or Internet search engine to find the words beside each other e.g. “myocardial infarction”.

See how to truncate and phrase search

This YouTube clip from the Gumberg Library gives a bit more information about using quotation marks, truncation and wildcards. 

Remember, different databases and search engines will have different search options, so if you try something and it doesn't work, have a look at tha database's tips or help page.


Some ways of using truncation for the assignment keywords are:

scrub*  to retrieve scrub, scrubs, scrubbing



Some suggestions for phrase searching for the assignment keywords are:

“Hand hygiene”

“Health care centres”

“Infection control”


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