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Search Tips

The following techniques are helpful when you are looking for specific items, for example, a journal article, book, video, etc., and know the title, author(s) name, publisher, or other information about the item. The advanced search is particularly useful for locating known items.

Phrase Searching

Summon allows for phrase searching with the use of " ". The query "social media" will find results with that phrase in that order.

Searching Specific Fields

The single search box in Summon (basic search box or keyword search box in advanced search) will search across many fields automatically. For example, entering an ISBN, ISSN, or Call Number will bring back associated records.

You can search for a term in a specific field by entering the name of the field followed by a colon and the string you want to search. For example:


Fields that can be searched directly are:

  • Title
  • SubjectTerms
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • PublicationTitle
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Language
  • Notes
  • ISBN
  • ISSN
  • DOI

Boolean Operators

Using Boolean search syntax (AND, OR, NOT) will bypass features of the Summon relevancy system (for example, stemming, proper name matching, and so on). As a result, Boolean results will not mirror the results of non-Boolean queries. Boolean searches, depending on how they are written, can either limit or expand your search.

The operators must be written in all capital letters to ensure that they are interpreted correctly by the system.

In a query containing both AND and OR operators, AND is processed first, followed by OR. If a query contains parentheses, operators within parentheses are processed first, and then precedence rules are processed from left to right.

Ampersand (&): Is equated with the appropriate word for "and" in all supported languages except Korean, Japanese, and Chinese where it is not necessary. In German "&" is treated as "UND".

Query Examples using AND, OR, and NOT

When two or more terms or expressions are adjacent with no intervening Boolean operator, an AND is assumed. For example, if you search for

earthquake fault

you will get the same results when you search for

earthquake AND fault

To expand the results, use the OR operator. For example, if you search for

microcircuits OR nanocircuits

your results will include items containing either term or both terms.

To search for phrases, enclose the phrase in quotes. Use any of the operators combined with phrase searches. For example, if you search for

"teacher education" OR "educator training"

your results will include either complete phrase.

To exclude items in a Summon search, use the NOT operator or minus sign (-) character before a term. For example, the query

mustang NOT animal

will exclude items that refer to the horse, but will include references to the Ford Mustang.

You can add parentheses to nest expressions within a query.  For example:

(Paint OR Glass) Applied

is the same as a search for

(Paint OR Glass) AND Applied


Paint OR Glass Applied

is different. This is the same as a search for

Paint OR (Glass AND Applied)

Wildcard Use

Wildcard searches expand a search and will increase the number of results returned. Summon supports two wildcards: the question mark (?) and the asterisk (*). Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.

The question mark (?) will match a single character. For instance, the search "wom?n" will find both "woman" and "women."

The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. A search for "sustainab*" will match "sustainable" and "sustainability."

Proximity Searching

Proximity searches limit result to terms within a specified number of words from each other. To perform a proximity search, enclose your search terms in quotes and use the tilde (~) followed by a number indicating the distance you want to allow between the search terms.

For example: "yeast bread"~10 finds material where "yeast" and "bread" appear within 10 words of each other.

NOTE: proximity searching does not take the order of search terms into account. In this example, the search "boron nanotubes potassium"~6 yields results in which the three search terms appear within six words of each other in any order.

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