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Biology library guide to information searches

Phrase search

Phrase search

Phrase searching allows you to search a database for particular words in a particular order. It is useful for names of companies, events etc. Surrounding a group of words with double quotes instructs most databases & search engines to only retrieve documents in which those words appear together and in the same order.

Example: ”phenotypic plasticity”, "climate change", "invasive species"

The quotation signs indicates two things:

  1. You are searching for the two words together as a concept, not separately
  2. You are searching for the words exactly as you have spelled them, all "extra help" is excluded (for example variant spellings and plural/singular).

Consequently, adding quotation marks will get you less, but more relevant results.

Since you exclude all "extra help" you need to use truncation within the quotation marks to include for example the plural form of your search term (which is otherwise often included automatically by the search tool).