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Web of Science: Using a Citation Database: Truncation and Quotations: Practice

Truncation and Quotes in PubMed

Truncation and quotations work differently in PubMed than in Web of Science.  It is usually best to use truncation and quotes only when there is no MeSH heading for a concept. Quotes and truncation both turn off Automatic Term Mapping. 

The asterisk (*) is the wildcard symbol. However, it only operates as a right-hand truncation symbol. It cannot be used at the beginning or in the middle of a word. 

Quotes and truncation cannot be combined. 

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Truncation and Quotations

The asterisk (*) is the most important "wildcard" in Web of Science. It represents any character, group of characters, or no character.

  • Web of Science allows you to use wildcards in all search fields that allow words and phrases.
  • They may be used anywhere in a word. Use the asterisk to represent unknown characters at the beginning, end, or middle of a word.

Use a wildcard used at the beginning or end of a word for truncation.  For example, searching for gene* will retrieve articles that have the words gene, genes, genetic and genetics.

Quotation Marks: Put quotation marks around your search terms to search them as an exact phrase.

  • For example, a search for "cell phone" will retrieve articles with titles like "Cell-Phone Radiation and Cancer Studies in Normal Mice", but not articles with titles like "Phone Survey of Patients with Sickle Cell Disease".

  • Quotation marks turn off lemmatization, Web of Science's automatic processing that helps find variations such as plurals, different verb tenses (run/running), spelling variations, etc. Consider adding a truncation wildcard to account for plurals or verb forms when you use quotation marks.

Tip

Tip: truncation and quotation marks can be used together. For example a search for "cell* phone*" will retrieve cell phone, cellular phone, cell phones and cellular phones.

 


Try It

Make sure you have removed any earlier date limits.

  • Search for mi*RNA AND dementia
    You should retrieve about 65 citations, the same number as when you searched for (miRNA OR microRNA) AND dementia. 

  • Search for stress fracture* in the topic field. You should retrieve more than 65,000 results, but you notice that most of these are not about stress fractures of bones; instead, most are about stresses and fractures in the materials science, metallurgy, engineering and related areas.

  • Now search "stress fracture*" as a topic. You should retrieve about 3,765 results, and now most are on target. 

Other Wildcards

In addition to the asterisk (*), Web of Science offers two additional search "wildcards". 

  • The question mark (?) represents any single character. 

  • The dollar sign ($) represents zero or one character.