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