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InfoSkills for Social and Behavioral Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

2.1. Web of Science: Basic Search page

In contrast to most other databases, Web of Science offers guided searching on the Basic Search page.

Search rules

Boolean operators

  • Web of Science uses an implicit AND operator when you run a search with two or more adjacent terms. For example, a search on social media is the same as a search on social AND media. Both searches will return the same number of results. Note that Web of Science interprets the AND operator correctly, so you can use it if you prefer to.
  • Use OR to find any of the terms. 
  • Use NOT to exclude terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it.
  • For more controlled searching, use parentheses to override the default operator precedence (AND, OR, NOT).
  • To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks: "social media".

Truncation & Wildcards

  • The truncation character is the asterisk (*), used to represent any group of characters, including no character (e.g. searching for econom* will find economy, economics, economical, etc.).
  • Wildcard characters are:
    • the dollar sign ($) which represents zero or one character (useful for finding both the British and American spellings of the same word: flavo$r finds flavor and flavour);
    • the question mark (?) which represents any single character (e.g. searching for ad??? will find added, adult, adopt).
  • The search default is set to the field 'Topic'. Other search fields can also be chosen from the pull-down menu -- such as Title, Author, and Publication name (used for journal titles).

Limit: Timespan

The Timespan limit defaults to search all dates (1988-2020). Date limits include Last 5 years, Year to date, Custom year range, and more.

❸ Add row

Click on 'Add row' to add a new row to the search field. Adding a new field also sets the second field to the AND operator. You can change the AND operator to OR or NOT.

➍ Reset

Click on 'Reset' to clear the search box(es).