Help with Searching


When searching for an article, the more specific your search, the faster it will run, and the more likely it will return the actual article(s) of interest to you.

Specific hints and tools for successful and specialized searching are described in individual sections of this help; please use the appropriate links in the list shown in the help contents on this page.

General Rules

Use QuickSearch for simple queries. QuickSearch is found on the portal home page and on most interior portal and journal pages.

For more complicated questions, or to have greater control over your search parameters and results, use Advanced Search. You can reach Advanced Search by clicking on the "[Advanced]" link found near the Quick Search boxes. The Advanced Search page allows you to control additional features such as conditional fields, date range, geographic coordinates, GeoRef limits.

Main Search Strategies


Full titles, or fragments thereof, should be entered in "quotation marks". This forces a phrase search rather than our search engine searching for each word separately.

"Life and death of a cell"


Authors can be entered in the Author field, one per box.

Characters not falling in the English A-Z alphabet cannot be searched, and should be dealt with using a wildcard.

The last name is the main identifier; first (F) initial can be used to further specify your search. If you use initials, they should be entered in the form Lastname, F. (for example, Darwin, C. - note also that the initial is optional, though middle initials can be included as well).

Lastname, F.

Date Ranges

Date ranges can narrow your search in two ways. You can limit the search to recent articles, or specifically to older articles if you know that (for example) an article by Smith was published in 1996. Date ranges can also be used to limit the search results to articles for which the full text is available on-line by noting the starting date for full-text availability and setting the From date accordingly.


A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric identifier applied to a specific piece of intellectual property, particularly one presented in an online environment -- be that object a book, a scientific paper, a song, an image, or something else. DOIs are commonly used when an article is published online ahead of print. In that case page numbers are not known, so a DOI is used instead.

Articles from a particular institution

Since authors' addresses and affiliations are indexed, they can be searched. For example, a full-text search for


will return articles by an author claiming a Purdue affiliation (as well as any articles written by someone named "Purdue"). This technique can narrow down an author search, especially if the author's name is common. In this case, enter the author's name in the Author field, and the institution (or better yet, just a single word to identify it) in the Word(s) Anywhere in Article field.

Extra Benefits of Full-Text Searching

Searching the full text of an article can reveal much more information than a simple abstract search. More information than just the results and discussion is indexed; this information can be used to identify articles that are related in ways separate from the subject of the research. The following table illustrates how full-text searches can identify a valuable range of articles.

Articles from a particular institution

Since authors' addresses and affiliations are indexed, they can be searched. For example, a full-text search for


will return articles by an author claiming a Purdue affiliation (as well as any articles written by someone named "Purdue").

This technique can also be used to help narrow down an author search, especially in cases where the author's name is fairly common. In this case, enter the author's name in the "Author" field, and the institution (or better yet, just a single word to identify it) in the "Full text" field.

The Order of Displayed Results

Search results are listed in order of 'relevance' - in general, this means that articles which contain the greatest number of the search terms in the greatest frequency will be listed first. The order of results can be changed to newest first or oldest first on the search results page. 

Using "Phrases"

Words in a field are assumed to be connected by a Boolean OR statement unless otherwise specified. One way to connect two words is by enclosing them in quotation marks. For example, the search

signal transduction

will return articles which include either the term signal or the term transduction (or both). A phrase search enclosed in quotation marks:

"signal transduction"

will only return articles where the term "transduction" immediately follows the term "signal"; articles containing only signal, only "transduction", or even "transduction signal" are not returned.

Using "Wildcards"

The wildcard character (*) can be used to search the beginning fragments of words, forcing a match with any word containing a given root. Although this function is somewhat duplicated with the search engine's Stemming feature, proper use of a wildcard can return a range of potentially interesting documents. For example, a search for


will return articles containing "child, childcare", and "children"; likewise, a search for


will return articles containing "phosphatase" and "phosphate".

Wildcards can also be used to truncate words before non-English characters such as an umlaut (ü) or an accent (é). Since these characters cannot be searched, a word such as the author name "Grundström" should be searched as "Grundstr*". Note that wildcards can only be used after characters; any characters following a wildcard in a single word will be discarded, and may cause an error.

Boolean Logic

Basic useful Boolean terms include AND, OR, NOT, and ( ). These terms are used to connect the words in a search. They can be used by themselves or in combination to specify your search terms. Although Boolean terms can be used in the "Author" field (with last names only), they are most commonly used in the "Full text" fields. Words within a field are assumed to be connected by OR unless otherwise specified. The OR connector is not often used since it is the default expression between terms. However, it can be helpful in organizing a complex query.

The AND connector limits the search results to articles that contain all of terms that are connected by AND. For example, a search for

"human diseases"

will return all articles that contain the term "human" or the term "diseases" (and depending on the journal, this could cause an error). In practice, this will retrieve articles as diverse as human evolution and avian diseases. Inserting an AND statement like so:

"human" AND "diseases"

ensures that only articles that mention both "human" and "diseases" will be returned.

The NOT term can be used to exclude articles containing certain terms. For example, if you wanted to search for articles about the gene called "sos" that did not deal with "Drosophila", the search would be constructed as such:

"sos" NOT "drosophila"

For more complex searches, these operators may be combined with one another, optionally using parentheses to group terms to avoid ambiguity in a complex query. For example,

("signal transduction" AND ("phosphorylation" OR "kinase")) NOT "xenopus"

finds only articles that use the phrase "signal transduction" and either the word "phosphorylation" or the word "kinase", but do not mention the word "Xenopus".


Punctuation is not searched and is treated as a space. The only exceptions to this are parentheses "()" and asterisks "*", and the use of a hyphen "-" in author's names. Therefore, the parentheses and the wildcard character have special meaning in the search context and cannot be searched in the text. If a search term includes punctuation (such as a dash "-" or a plus "+"), enclose the whole word in quotation marks to ensure that proper spacing is maintained in the search.


The search mechanism uses a "stemming" mechanism to find words which are similar to the words you enter. For example, a search on


may turn up articles containing similar words such as transcript and transcribed. These additional words may not always be highlighted in the text. If you wish to disable stemming, enclose each individual term in quotation marks. If you do so, and also use Boolean connectors to combine terms, be sure that AND, OR, or NOT are not included in the quotation marks.

Search Term Highlighting

Search terms are highlighted in bold text in the title display of the search result, as well as in articles and Abstracts viewed from a search result.

Search Errors

There are two reasons that you may not get any articles back from your search: an error occurred with the search engine program itself, or there may not be any articles matching the search criteria.

If your search was executed properly but did not return any articles, the message "Your search retrieved zero articles." will be displayed at the top of the screen, along with some suggestions for narrowing your search. In this case, the search can be broadened as described above to redefine the search. Appropriate use of wildcards with search terms, or author names for which you are not sure of the exact spelling, can also help. There is also the possibility that no articles matching your interests are in the journal's collection.

When a true search error occurs, the message "There was a problem with our search system." will appear at the top of the screen. This most commonly means that too many articles were returned. This will happen if a common word (for example, and or the) is used. Single letters not included in a phrase will return similar errors. Finally, note that parentheses and quotation marks come in sets: if only one is used, an error will result. Ensure that you are not using common words or single characters; if the error cannot be resolved, send us feedback describing the problem.

Specify Content to Search

For Advanced Search, you can designate the source of the articles to be searched:

  • Journals
  • Books
  • GeoRef
  • Figures (books and journals)

The Advanced Search page also has an option allowing you to specifically select one or more of the GeoScienceWorld supported journals. Simply click on the journals in the dropdown box that you want to search.

Specify Affiliation to Search

You may search for an author's affiliation by entering the name of the author's organization (a single word may be sufficient) in Quick Search or in the Affiliation field in Advanced Search. When combined with a search for an author's name, the affiliation search helps to narrow results to a specific author from a known organization.

Specify Meeting Information to Search

You may search for an meeting information by entering meeting names, locations and dates in Quick Search or in the Meeting Informatiion field in Advanced Search. Typical meeting information includes name of meeting, city, country and dates.

Specify Geographic Area to Search

You may search for an references that cover a specific geographic area using either political or physiographic names for regions or latitude and longitude. Political or physiographic names may be entered in Quick Search or Advanced Search. Latitude and longitude may be searched using the coordinate box on the Advanced Search. Enter degrees of latitude and longitude using the following conventions: develop a boundary box for the area sought and enter the northernmost and southernmost latitudes along with the easternmost and westernmost longitudes. Latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere and longitudes in the Western Hemisphere must be entered as negative numbers. Specific coordiinates can be searched using minutes in the form: 37.45 for 37 degrees and 45 minutes, e.g. the approximate boundary box for Santa Cruz County California would be northernmost 37.15, southernmost 36.45, easternmost -121.30, and westernmost -122.20. The best results will be obtained by searching a box that is slightly bigger than the area desired and by using general latitude and longitude rounded to whole degrees e.g. boundary box for southwestern Colorado --northernmost 39, southernmost 37, easternmost -102, westernmost -104.