TRUNCATION, also called stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.
To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol at the end.
The truncation symbol is * (asterisk).
The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.
For example: child* gives you child, children, childhood etc.
Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one or one/zero letter of a word.
A wildcard replacing one character is ? (Web of Science, Scopus, ProQuest) or # (CAB Abstracts).
A wildcard replacing zero or one character is $ (Web of Science) or ? (CAB Abstracts).
For example: organi?ation, colo#r
Replacing a character is useful for instance if you are not sure about the spelling:
eri?son retrieves ericson and erikson
hof$man retrieves hofman and hoffman
Wildcard is also useful if a word is spelled in different ways, but still has the same meaning.
advis?r retrieves adviser and advisor
See a video ‘Wildcard and Truncation Advanced Searching Tutorial’ (2:11) by Oklahoma City Community College Library :
Dilemma with lemmas
Many databases can automatically recall some inflected forms of words, typically singulars/plurals and sometimes conjugations too. Also American-British spelling variations are taken care of by the system.
For example: color might retrieve also color, colors, colour, colours, coloring, colouring
Notice 1. If you use phrases in your queries, this automatism won’t work!
For example: “level of organization” won’t find “level of organisation” or “levels of organization”
Instead you can use: ” level* of organi*ation “
Notice 2. If you are interested for instance in cycling (riding a bike) and want to avoid other, wrong forms like cycle, you can either use truncation: cycling* or a phrase: “cycling”.