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Scopus: Search Techniques at a glance

Search Techniques at a glance






Use for finding alternative endings to a word

The asterisk (*) replaces letters at the end of a word

develop, develops, developing, development, developmental


Use for finding alternative spellings of a word

The question mark (?) replaces a single letter anywhere in a word

→ organization, organisation

Plurals and possessives

The singular form of a word finds plural and possessive forms of most words

→ carbon, carbons

→ baby, baby’s, babies

Hyphenated words

The hyphenated form finds both hyphenated and non-hyphenated forms

Non-hyphenated form is treated as separate words

Hyphenated words
that are combined should be searched using the OR operator

→ video-game, video game, video-games, video games

video game
→ video game OR “video game” OR “video games”

full-time OR fulltime


If you search for two or more words in Scopus, and do not specify with the use of either double quotation marks (loose phrase) or curly brackets (exact phrase), Scopus automatically puts AND between them. Therefore, the words in the phrase may not be searched together

1. Loose phrases in double quotation marks “

A loose search for the phrase, i.e. words must be together but allowing for the use of truncation, wildcard and lemmatization

2. Exact phrases in curly bracket {}

The exact phrase is searched, but will not allow use of truncation, wildcard or retrieving alternative spelling of word

“cognitive behaviour therapy”
→ cognitive behaviour therapy, cognitive behavior therapy

{cognitive behaviour therapy}

→ cognitive behaviour therapy

Boolean Operators: OR, AND, AND NOT

Use Boolean operators to combine your search

ORDER OF PRECEDENCE-Searches with multiple operators are processed in the following order: OR, AND, AND NOT
OR is read before AND, which in turn, is read before AND NOT

Use OR when you have similar words to describe a concept or topic


Use AND to combine multiple concepts


Use AND NOT to exclude results containing terms

liver OR cirrhosis 
 At least one term must appear 


cognitive architecture AND robots
→ Both terms must appear


lung AND NOT cancer
Exclude one term

Nesting – (…)

Group similar words together using brackets

(college OR university) AND athletics

Proximity Operators - W/n, Pre/n

Use proximity operators to find words within a certain distance from each other

Pre/n specifies a word order, W/n does not

W/n - indicates distance between words, but not the order

Pre/n – terms must appear in a specific order  between words

journal W/2 publishing
where journal can be found within a distance of two words of publishing

behavioral Pre/3 disturbances
→ where behavioral precedes disturbances by 3 words


Search Techniques Table

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