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Engineering - Aircraft Maintenance: Search Techniques

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Boolean Logic

Linking words using AND tells the search engine to look for results that contain both of the keywords 
Linking words using OR tells the search engine to look for results that contain either of the keywords 
Linking words using NOT tells the search engine to look for results that contain one of your keyword but not the other 

Advanced search techniques

Complex Boolean Searches


You can use one or more operators together e.g.(city OR urban OR town) AND regeneration. This will find documents with regeneration and any of the words city, urban or town.

Phrase Queries “ ”


Allows you to search for exact terms by enclosing the search term in quotation marks. This returns documents containing the exact phrase e.g. “architectural conservation”.

Truncation *


Allows you to search for words that share a common stem by using a specific symbol e.g. comput* would search for any word containing the stem comput (e.g computer, computing, computation).

Wildcards ?


Replace letters within a word e.g. wom?n would find both woman and women.  Be aware that databases tend to use different symbols for truncation and wildcards, so check the database’s help section before you start.

Proximity Searches

This is a way to search for two or more words that occur within a certain number of words from each other e.g. Salmon near/1 5 virus. There is a lot of variation between databases in what symbols to use, so check the database’s help section before using proximity searches.

Fielded Searches


Search in a particular field of the document, for example the title, author or publication date. Many databases will let you select available fields to search from a drop-down menu.

More information

More detailed information about searching techniques can be found on the How to Research Guide.

Current awareness

There are several tools that you can make use of to keep up to date with developments in your subject area.

  • RSS Feeds

Email Alerts:

  • Citation Alerts
  • Journal Contents Alerting Services
  • Saved Search Alerts
  • Blogs

Search Strategy

Plan Ahead


Break it Down


Get to know your Subject

Your results

Too many results

If you have retrieved too many results, think again about how to make your search more specific.  Try using different keywords, add additional keywords, or limit your search to particular fields or publication years.

Too few results

If your search finds very little, try looking at the index or thesaurus of the database that you are using. This will help you to match keywords and spellings with those used in the database and may give suggestions for broader search terms. 

  • Use your results to review your search strategy.
  • Consider using a wider range of search techniques to broaden or narrow your search results.