Skip to Main Content

Physics Toolbox

Search Tips


Some databases and search engines allow you to expand your search by using special characters to truncate words.

The search "wom*" will pull results for woman and women. It will also return results for wombat, so be sure to think this through. "Wom*n" may be a better choice.

Different databases will use different characters -most use an asterisk (*), but some (including the library's catalog) will use a dollar sign ($), and there are a few others out there as well. Check the database help and look for information on truncation.

Boolean Search

Boolean searches use the words "AND", "NOT", and "OR" as well as parenthesis to efficiently describe desired results.

Using the word "AND" will limit your search: "physics AND women" will find only those articles that contain both words.

"OR" will expand your search: "physics OR women" will pull articles that contain the word "physics" as well as articles that contain the word "women", plus the articles that contain both words.

"NOT" limits your search: "physics NOT women" will pull articles on physics that do not include the word "women."

Parenthesis can also help frame your query. The search "(physics AND women) NOT curie" will find information on works that contain the words physics and women, but exclude information on Marie Curie.

Using Quotation Marks

When you type in your search terms into a search box without quotation marks, your results will include all the documents that have all your terms in any order. When you put quotation marks around your search terms, you are searching for that specific phrase.

A search for women in physics (no quotation marks) will return documents that have the word "women" and the word "physics" somewhere. They need not be found together. The word "in" is generally ignored in this kind of search.

A search for "women in physics" (quotation marks used) will return documents where the phrase "women in physics" is found, exactly as you typed it.

Can't Find It?

Swem doesn't have the item? - Complete an Inter-Library Loan request. Note that first-time users have to register to use this service.

It's in Off-Site Storage (SOSS)? - To obtain an electronic copy of an article,use Interlibrary Loan. If you prefer to use the print copy, select the Classic Catalog, linked below the catalog search box. On the purple bar at the top of the search window, click the "Find and Request" link, then "Swem Off-Site Storage." The form will automatically be completed with the information from the last item you viewed.

Swem Librar staff retrieve material from Off-Site Storage weekdays at noon. You'll receive notification that your item is ready for pickup at the Circulation desk.


Questions? contact the Swem Library Research Desk. They're happy to help out.