How to construct a query

Before conducting a search, think about what terms are related to your topic. What are their synonyms? Also think about broader and narrower terms and related subjects.

For example, we want to research how violence on TV affects the aggressive behaviour of young people. The different aspects of this topic are violence, television and young people

violence television youth
aggression tv child, children, childhood
    teenager, teenagers, teens
    adolescent, adolescents, adolescence

Skillfully combining different search words is important to limit your search to be as clear and precise as possible. For that you can use the following methods:

Boolean logic operators

You can limit or extend your search by connecting the search words with Boolean logic operators AND, OR or NOT. The Boolean machine will give you an overwiev of using them. 

AND limits your search; search words connected by AND have to both be present in the found documents.
television AND violence - finds documents containing both television and violence.

OR expands your search; when two or more words are connected by OR, atleast one of them has to be present in the document. OR is good to use for connecting synonims or words with a similar meaning.
violence OR aggression - finds documents with either violence or agression or both written in it.

NOT limits your search; the first word has to be present in the document and the second word can not. 
violence NOT aggression - finds documents that contain the word violence but not the word aggression


As closeness operators NEAR (N) and WITHIN (W) are used. 

tax N5 reform - finds results where these words are not further than 5 words from each other. The order of the words doesn't matter - both tax reform and reform of income tax will be found. 

tax W5 reform - finds results where these words are not further than 5 words from each other and appear in the same order as in the search - finds only tax reform but not reform of income tax


To find an exact phrase, use quotation marks. 
"media violence" finds results with this phrase in them.

To substitute different word endings, use an asterisk *.
computer* – finds: computer, computers, computerized, computerization, etc. 

To substitute one letter, use a question mark ?. 
globali?ation – finds globalisation and globalization.
computer? – finds: computer, computers, but not computerized, computerization.

To substitute one or no letters, use a hashtag #.
colo#r - finds both color and colour


If you use different operators, keep in mind that search words connected by AND or NOT are searched first and the words connected by OR last. If you want to change this, use parentheses! For example, if we want our search to include the word violence and atleast one of the words "teenager" or "adolescent", we should write violence AND (teenager OR adolescent), because if we leave out the parantheses and write violence AND teenager OR adolescent, the search results can come back containing only the word adolescent (or only violence and teenager).


Search example

We are searching for materials on how the violence shown on TV influences children or teenagers. 

The query in the Basic Search form could be:

 (television OR tv) AND (aggressi* OR violen*) AND (child* OR adolescen* OR teen*) .

For the same search in the Advanced Search form we enter the words denoting one concept on one and the same line and connect them with the operator OR. We connect the lines with the operator AND, and on the right-hand column, choose AB abstract as the search field for all the words.

We limit the search with documents published since 2005. In order to search only scholarly articles where full text is available, we choose the delimiters Full text and Peer reviewed.

EBSCO Discovery Advanced Search



Build an Advanced Search query with your own search words. Decide upon the search fields and delimiters you wish to use. You can try out all kinds of versions and change the search conditions at every stage of the search.

If you do not select a field, (Select a filed (optional ), all fields will be searched, except full text. This could be the best way to start a search.