If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review. At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results. One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.
For example, a search for combat AND PTSD will return items that contain both "combat" and "PTSD":
soldier OR veteran returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:
reintegration NOT marine returns items that talk about reintegration of non-Marine military personnel:
An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("battlefield medicine") or titles:
For example, "combat trauma"
will search for those words in that order, finding the 2010 text by James D. Johnson.
Truncation and Wildcards:
Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.
For example, one could search for militar* to find military, militarism, militaries, and so on.
Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.
When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.
For example, (medicine OR health OR injury OR trauma*) AND ("Iraq war" OR "Iraq veteran*") will return results for the union of the two subject areas.
In the Proquest Sociology database this search returns results including "Military Sexual Trauma During Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan: Prevalence, Readjustment, and Gender Differences" by Katz et al. Violence and Victims 27.4 (2012): 487-499.