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Library Search Guide: Advanced Search

A guide to assist users with using the Library Search interface.

Using Advanced search

Advanced Search allows you to quickly choose title, author and subject options from the menus on the left and to limit your search by Publication Date, Material Type (e.g. books, journals, audiovisual) and Language, on the right.

Material Type limits are particularly useful for finding specific kinds of items, for example:

Find the journal Research in African literatures by limiting to Journals
Find the DVD Lantana by limiting to Audio Visual
Find a map of South Australia by using the in subject option (type "South Australia”) and limiting Material Type to Maps.

Tip: using Any will search for your key words in all fields. This can be a good option to broaden your search.

Title search options

contains: use this option if you are not sure of the exact title, for example: biological education journal

Tip: also use the contains option as an extra check if starts with doesn’t find the title that you are looking for.

is (exact): this option is useful for very short titles, for example: Nature

Tip: you can also use is (exact) as an alternative to starts with when you know the exact title.

starts with: enter the first few words of the title, for example: journal of biological education

Author search options

contains: use this option to find variations of the author's name; for example, a search for natalie houston finds Natalie Houston, Natalie M. Houston.

Tip: be prepared for large sets of results with contains as this will search on multiple authors e.g. Houston, Rebecca J. ; Ceballos, Natalie A.

is (exact): use this option when you know the exact form of the author's name, for example: Margaret Atwood

starts with: not an option in an author search.

Subject search options

contains: use this option to search by subject when you don't know the exact subject heading
e.g. Australia history
e.g. europe language policy

is (exact): use this option if you know the exact subject heading (not recommended)
e.g. Australia history 1788-1900
e.g. Language policy  Europe

starts with: not an option in a subject search.

Finding related material

When you have found a relevant item on your topic, you can look for other similar items using its Subjects links, if available.

Choose the Details tab and view Subjects. Click on the most useful subject heading for your topic.

Advanced search tips

To find information on a topic, use keyword searching. Ask yourself:

  • What are the main concepts (key words) that I need to include in my search?
  • Are there any synonyms that I need to include?
  • Are there any alternative spellings for the words that I want to use?

You can use advanced seach techniques to create more sophisticated searches. In Advanced Search, enter your keywords using the options in subject or Any and choosing contains from the drop-down menu.

You can also use the search operators AND, OR and NOT but you will need to enter these words in capitals so that Library Search can interpret them correctly.

Search for key concepts: AND

Library search assumes an AND between words, and searches for both words.


france history
education technology (= education AND technology)

Search for synonyms / related terms: OR

OR will find records containing either term; put brackets around these related  terms to ensure correct searching order.

planning (city OR urban)
anthropology (Japan OR China)
Exclude unwanted terms: NOT cats NOT dogs
Use the truncation character (*)

narrat* to find narrative, narratives, narration, narrators etc

Use the wildcard to replace a single character wom?n to find woman or women
Use quotation marks to search an exact phrase "south australia", "human rights"