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Searching Tips

Instant Help Available

Use the "Ask CTR Library" Service to chat with a CTR Library Graduate Assistant for tips specific to your research.


Basic Strategy
Complex Searches
Ranges (years, names, report numbers)



Basic strategy:

  • Use quotation marks (" ") around "an exact phrase".
  • Use OR between terms to search for either one OR the other. for example,type "this phrase" OR "that phrase"
  • Minus signs (-) mean NOT. Use to EXCLUDE a -word or -"a phrase". for example,type "this phrase" -"that phrase"
  • Asterisks (*) are wildcards at the end of a partial word that can have multiple ending*.
    for example,type "public trans*" OR "rail transit" -bus
  • Colons (:) signal a range search.
    for example,type 1970:2000 in the YEARS field
  • Results are displayed as a list sorted by the most recent publication date (default). Use the dropdown options to re-sort the list.
    [screenshot of the SORT BY dropdown options]
  • When using more than one field, results must meet all criteria unless "OR" is selected in dropdown preceding the field.


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Complex searches

See the examples below.

Type this… To find this…
access*
searches field(s) for access and/or accessible and/or accessibility and/or any other word beginning with Access-
"pavement rehabilitation" both words, together as a phrase (rehabilitation of pavements would not meet this criteria)
pavement OR rehabilitation either word (or both)
pavement* (rehab* OR maintenance) rehabilitation AND pavements and/or maintenance AND pavements
asphalt concrete  -"rubberized concrete" asphalt AND concrete but NOT “rubberized concrete
forecast* p5 transportation forecasting”, “forecasts” or “forecasting” preceding “transportation” by 5 or fewer words. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word.
forecasting w5 transportation forecasting” within 5 words—before or after—transportation. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word.

Words joined by Boolean operators are evaluated in left-to-right order. Use parentheses to control evaluation order.

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Range of years, names, or numbers

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 publication years, but is also be useful for searching a range of report numbers or when unsure of the spelling of an author"s name.

Symbol Meaning Example
< less than (before) <2003 finds dates before 2003
> greater than (after) >2002 finds dates after 2001
: between 1997 : 1998 finds dates from Jan. 1, 1997 through Dec. 31, 1998 (inclusive)
In the author field, mach : mich finds all names between Mach* and the name Mich (inclusive)

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Contact library staff for reference assistance or help locating research reports.


The University of Texas at Austin  •  UT's Cockrell School of Engineering