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Search Smarter: Finding Information in Science and Engineering: Step 2: Truncation & Phrasing

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 ensures that all of the words in the search are found together and in the correct order. For example, if we wanted to search for greenhouse effect, we often need to put double quotation marks (“ ”) around the phrase to force the database or search engine to find that exact phrase e.g. “greenhouse effect”.

Example assignment question

Discuss the impact of climate change on Australian ecosystems.

An example of using truncation for the assignment keywords:

environ*  to retrieve environmental, environments, environs


Some suggestions for phrase searching for the assignment keywords:

“climate change”

“greenhouse effect”

“australian ecosystems”


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