How to Search

Searching  Troubleshooting  Basic search  Advanced search


Finding words and phrases

Type the word you want to find (duck) or type a phrase (blue duck) to find those words in that order. To find variations of words, type an asterisk at the end of one or more word stems (blue duck*). Use the symbols & / ! between words or phrases to represent Boolean AND, OR, NOT. Include a space before and after the symbol. Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other. See the examples below.

Type this… To find…
1080 poison a phrase (those words, in that order)
1080 / poison either word (or both)
1080 & poison items that contain both words (items that contain just one of the words will be ignored)
pests ! possum* “pests” but not “possum or possums”
possum* p5 bait “possum or possums” preceding “bait” by 5 words or fewer. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word. Do not string together phrases (river w5 blue duck).
possum w5 bait “possum” within 5 words of “bait” (before or after). Do not include phrases.

Words joined by & / ! are evaluated in left-to-right order. For example, red & white / blue finds index items that contain "red" and "white", or items that contain "blue". Use parentheses to control evaluation order: For example, red & (white / blue) finds index items that contain "red" and "white" OR "red" AND "blue".

Finding a Year

Do not use a forward slash to separate date elements unless you surround the date with quotation marks (for example, "2001/2002").

You can use the symbols & / ! between years to do AND-OR-NOT searches. For example, 2002 / 2003 finds all dates in 2002 or 2003.

You can do "less than", "greater than", and range searches for dates (see examples below).

Doing "less than", "greater than", and "between" searches

You can search for items greater than or less than a certain value, or within a range. This is most commonly done when searching for dates, but can also be done when searching for values or text. Use the symbols shown below. A range consists of two values, low and high, separated by a colon. Include spaces around the colon.

Symbol Meaning Example
< less than (before) < 2003 finds years before 2003
<= less than or equal to
(on or before)
<= 2002 finds 2002 and earlier years
> greater than (after) > 2000 finds years after 2000
>= greater than or equal to
(on or after)
>= 2000 finds 2000 and later years
: between 1997 : 2000 finds years 1997 through 2000 (inclusive)

Using an Index

If a search form includes an index button, click it to display a dialog box that shows words and/or terms for which you can search. This eliminates trial-and-error searching and makes searching easier. For more information, click the Help button on the index dialog box.

Using the AND-OR-NOT drop-down list

The advanced search screen includes an AND-OR-NOT drop-down list in front of each box meaning you can do more advanced searches. The Boolean operator you select for a box determines how the search criteria in that box will be combined with criteria already evaluated. Boxes are evaluated from top to bottom (first box to last).

Case and punctuation

Case in query criteria is usually ignored (a search for blue duck finds Blue Duck). Punctuation is also ignored, except for the AND-OR-NOT symbols (& / !) and search symbols (for example, : = < >). If you do not want these characters to be interpreted as search symbols, use quotation marks ("Johnson & Johnson") or replace the punctuation with a space (Johnson Johnson).

Reset button

To clear query criteria, click the Reset button on the search screen.

Submit Query button

To start your search, click the Submit Query button.

Troubleshooting: Searches

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems are listed below.

I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."

The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

If you cannot determine what caused the error, try a simpler search (for example, just a word in a box) to see if it works. If the search form includes Index buttons, use them to construct the query, instead of typing criteria. If even simple searches do not work, contact the Webmaster for the site.

I found too many records.

If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact search instead (for example, search for felis catus instead of cat*).

Try using a Boolean symbol (& / !) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find publications about pests other than possums (Trichosurus vulpechula), search for pest* ! (possum* / trichosurus vulpechula).

If the item you are searching for includes punctuation, substitute spaces for punctuation (for example, search for db textworks, not db/textworks) or surround the item with quotation marks ("db/textworks").

I did not find any records.

Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.

If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, colo*) or separate several possible spellings with a forward slash (for example, search for color / colour).

If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Index buttons, use them to view and paste items to search for.

If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols (& / !). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.

If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) or range searches (:), put spaces around the symbols.

Do not use words (and, or, not) for Boolean operators. You must use the Boolean symbols (& / !).

Try using / instead of & between words. Using / means either word can be present (john / paul finds John or Paul). Using & means both words must be present (john & paul will not find just "John" or just "Paul").

When I try to display records I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."

The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, contact the Webmaster for the site.