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Web of Science: Advanced Search

A guide to using the Web of Science database.

Advanced Search

Image of Web of Science's Advanced Search Query Builder.

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Web of Science's Advanced Search allows you to build a search using field tags, Boolean expressions, and set combinations. Select which database collection you would like to search in. Select the search field from the drop-down menu, type in your keyword, then hit "Add to query." Your search string will then appear in the "Query Preview" box. Once you are satisfied with your query, hit "Search." You can also add previous searches to a new search query from the "History" box.

Search Tips

  • Choose specific terms that are closely related to your research topic, including terms you might use when discussing your topic with a colleague such as jargon, synonyms, and abbreviations. Keep in mind that WoS automatically finds variant spellings and forms of a word.
  • Use Boolean operators to limit, broaden, or eliminate terms from your search:
    • AND limits search results, finding articles with both terms
    • OR broadens results, finding articles with either term
    • NOT eliminates terms from the results, finding articles with one term but not the other
  • Use proximity operators to limit your results to records that have designated search terms within a specified number of words of each other:
    • NEAR/# finds records where the search terms are within # number of words of each other. NEAR without /# defaults to a 15 word maximum. 
    • SAME is only used in Address searches, and restricts search results to terms that are located within the same address in a record.
  • Use truncation and wildcards to broaden your search: 
    • Add an asterisk (*) to replace multiple characters in a word (eg. biol* returns biology, biologist)
    • Add a question mark (?) to replace a single character ( eg. disrupt?rs for disrupters and disruptors)
    • Add a dollar sign ($) to replace one or zero characters (eg. odo$r for odor and odour)
  • Use quotation marks around words to search for an exact phrase.
  • Under "History," combine old searches to new ones by clicking the purple "Add to Search" button as shown below:

Image of Web of Science's Search History box with the Add to Search button highlighted.