Advanced searches allow you to specify the information you are looking for, either by combining multiple search terms or restricting your search by filtering it by type of document, year of publication, language, etc. They can be used in certain search engines, databases, library catalogues, etc. in order to obtain more precise results.



Before using an advanced search, you should consider a few suggestions:


CASE 1. Identification of keywords.

If we want to know what has been published on a certain subject, we can use the Keyword search (this is the most frequent type of search). To do so, we need to identify the main concepts within the subject we are searching for. When looking for information, we should consider the most appropriate terms, their possible synonyms, and search in multiple languages. The more words we use, the fewer results we will obtain. One good strategy is to introduce one or two search terms, only adding additional terms to further limit our results.

For example, if we would like information on marketing and promotion in the tourism industry, we can search

Term 1 - Marketing

Term 2 - Promotion

Term 3 - Tourism industry

Most sources of information have a field entitled “Any field” or “Search entire registry” that allows us to look in all search fields at once. We recommend that you begin your search using this option, as it will provide ample results that you can always reduce using other fields or by combining multiple fields.

Also remember that these tools include advanced search and help sections that can be very useful.


CASE 2. Truncation.

This consists of a series of symbols that substitute one or several characters (letters and numbers) in a word, allowing you to locate a term and its possible variations. The most frequently-used symbol is the asterisk (or, in some cases, the question mark).

It is equivalent to any number of characters, and it allows you to find any terms that begin with a specific root, eliminating the need to write out all possible similar terms. For example, if we choose the keyword MANAGEMENT, we can cut it down to MANAG*. This way, the database will show us articles that include:






We should be careful when using the asterisk, because depending on where we truncate the word, we may end up searching for terms that have nothing to do with what we are looking for. In the case of the last example, we need to keep in mind that we might also find manageable, which in this case does not interest us.

We also should not extend the shortened term too much, because we may exclude terms that also interest us. For example, if we shorten to TOURIST*, we would miss results including the terms:





CASE 3. Boolean operators.

Boolean operators allow us to combine multiple search terms in a single search, extending or reducing our results. They are generally used to find synonyms, equivalent terms or simply to search for records containing any of our terms.


Use of the operator AND to combine different terms. Search records containing all terms, in any position and in any order in the chosen field: marketing AND hotel.

booleano and

Use of the operator OR to combine synonyms. Search records containing at least one of the chosen terms: marketing OR promotion.


booleano or

Use of the operator NOT to exclude alternative terms. Search records that contain the first term, but not the second. Exclude terms from a search. This should be used carefully, as it can eliminate useful results: e-marketing NOT Marketing.

booleano not

CASE 4. Proximity operators.

Most of these tools allow us to search for an exact sequence of terms. In other words, terms in the exact order we type them. This option is generally identified with the term “phrase”. How we can use this option depends the tool we are using, since some require the use of quotes (“”), while others do this by default. The help offered by different tools will generally indicate which option applies.

If you search for “sustainable tourism” (in quotes), you will find all documents where this term appears exactly as you type it, never things like ‘tourism sustainability’ or ‘sustainable management of tourism’.

For more information
Accessing databases by area