How do I. . . What if I. . .
Do a search
  • Find words and phrases
  • Variant Spellings (American/British)
  • Find a year or range of years
  • Find an exact term
  • Search using case or punctuation
  • Use the Browse Index buttons
  • Use the drop-down boxes

    Display records after a search

  • Jump to other locations
  • Got an error message
  • Found too many records
  • Did not find any records



    Can't find an answer to your question here? Email the CTN Librarians for more assistance.

  • Searching

    To do a search:

    1. Type search term or phrase into a search box, or click a Browse Index button and select a term from the index. You can select more than one term.
      If you fill in more than one box, results must meet all criteria.
      Example: Find items that contain the title word "methamphetamine" AND were published in 2003.
    2. Click the Submit button.
    3. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.

    Finding Words and Phrases

    Type the word you want to find or type a phrase (drunk driving, e.g.) to find those words in that order. To find variations of words, type an asterisk at the end of one or more word stems (drunk driv*). Use AND, OR or NOT (in all caps) or the symbols &, / or ! between words or phrases to combine or exclude terms. Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other. See the examples below.

    Type this… To find…
    motivational interviewing a phrase (those words, in that order)
    experimental OR clinical (or: experimental / clinical) either word/phrase (or both)
    experimental AND clinical (or: experimental & clinical) items that contain both words (items that contain just one of the words will be ignored)
    motivational NOT enhanc* (or: motivational ! enhanc*) "motivational" but not "enhancing" or "enhancement"
    safer p2 skills "safer" preceding "skills" by 2 words or fewer. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word. Do not string together phrases (roosevelt w5 white house, e.g.).
    cocaine w3 pregnancy "cocaine" within 3 words of "pregnancy" (before or after). Do not include phrases.

    Words joined by AND, OR or NOT (& / !) are evaluated in left-to-right order. For example, red & white / blue finds index items that contain "red" and "white", or items that contain "blue". Use parentheses to control evaluation order: For example, red & (white / blue) finds index items that contain "red" and "white" OR "red" AND "blue".

    You can also combine search terms (something particularly effective in the "Search All Fields" box).

    Example: To search for books on screening, assessment, or diagnosis, (but not dual diagnosis), published 2000 through 2003, enter the following string into the Search All Fields box:

    ((screen* OR assess* OR diagnos*) NOT dual) AND (2000 : 2003)

    Variant Spellings (American/British)

    Truncating words that may be spelled in more than one way, particularly words spelled differently in the U.S. and the U.K., is the safest way to make sure you catch all the relevant terms. Use the asterisk (*) symbol to truncate the end of a word (you cannot use it at the beginning or in the middle of a word). For example, the word "behavior" is spelled "behaviour" in the U.K. To make sure you caught all variations, you might want to truncate that as "behav*".

    Other common variants include:

    American British
    analyze analyse
    behavior behaviour
    center centre
    color colour
    counselor counsellor
    fetal foetal
    labor labour
    minimization minimisation
    program programme
    randomization randomisation
    subsidizing subsidising

    Finding a Year

    You can do AND-OR-NOT searches in the year field as well. For example, 2002 OR 2004 finds all dates in 2002 or 2004.

    To search for a range of years, use the symbols < , > , and : (see below).

    Symbol Meaning Example
    < less than (before) < 2003 finds dates before 2003 (not including 2003)
    <= less than or equal to
    (on or before)
    <= 1998 finds dates on or before 1998
    > greater than (after) > 2002 finds dates from 2002 onward
    >= greater than or equal to
    (on or after)
    >= 500 finds values greater than or equal to 500
    : between 1997 : 1998 finds everything between the two years (inclusive)

    Finding a Term (exact, complete match)

    A term is a complete item, with no additional text before or after. To search for a term, precede it with an equal sign (=). For example, "=macintosh apples" finds only that complete term (does not find that phrase embedded in other text).

    Case and Punctuation

    Case in query criteria is usually ignored (a search for "hiv" finds "HIV"). Punctuation is also ignored, except for the AND-OR-NOT symbols (& / !) and search symbols (for example, : = < >). If you do not want these characters to be interpreted as search symbols, use quotation marks ("Johnson & Johnson") or replace the punctuation with a space (Johnson Johnson).

    Using the Browse Index Buttons

    If a search form includes a Browse Index button, click it to display a dialog box that shows individual words and/or terms (phrases) for which you can select.

    Browse Index buttons help eliminate trial-and-error searching and makes searching easier. For more information on how to use the buttons, click the Help on the Browse Index dialog box.

    Using the Drop-Down Boxes

    Drop-down boxes are used to search Format, Language, and Document Type. Click on an item in the box to make selection. If nothing is selected, all formats or types will be included.

    Displaying Records After a Search

    A successful search finds one or more records, which are displayed in your Web browser as a report. Use the browser controls as you normally would, to scroll up or down, print, go back, and so forth. You can also:

    Jump to Other Locations

    Click on links on the report to display more detail or jump to other pages. Clicking on a highlighted author name or subject will automatically perform a new search for the selected phrase.

    In Brief display format, you can click on an author's name to see more items by that same author. In the Full Display format, the records contain a variety of "see also" links, including author, organization, and subject terms. For example, the Keyword field lists subjects and other terms such as a Protocol number. Clicking on the Protocol number will automatically do a search in the database for all items associated with that Protocol. Likewise, in the right sidebar, the magnifying glass icon -- -- can be clicked to do a search for authors, Nodes, and CTPs. In many cases, author email links are also provided in that sidebar, and, where available, links to CTP and Node web pages are also provided (in the "www" links). If you have questions about searching, contact the Librarians.


    If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems are listed below.

    Error messages

  • I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."
  • The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

    If you cannot determine what caused the error, try a simpler search (for example, just a word in a box) to see if it works. If the search form includes Browse Index buttons, use them to construct the query, instead of typing criteria. If even simple searches do not work, contact the ADAI Library for assistance.

  • When I try to display records or change forms, I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."
  • The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, contact the Webmaster for the site.

    Too Many Records Found

    If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact search instead (for example, search for computer technology instead of comp*).

    Try using a Boolean operator (AND, OR or NOT) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find articles about cocaine but not crack (sometimes also called "crack cocaine"), search for "cocaine NOT crack".

    If the item you are searching for includes punctuation, substitute spaces for punctuation (for example, search for "Johnson Johnson", not "Johnson & Johnson" or surround the item with quotation marks ("Johnson & Johnson"). Be especially careful about using forward slashes as these are interpreted by InMagic as "OR" searches, which can result in a large set of results.

    No Records Were Found

    Examine the contents of the search form to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.

    If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, colo*) or separate several possible spellings with OR (or a forward slash) (for example, search for "color OR colour" or "color / colour").

    If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Browse Index buttons, use them to view and paste items to search for.

    If you are searching for a URL, try typing it all in lower case. Enclose it in quotes to prevent InMagic from interpreting its forward slashes as the Boolean operator OR.

    If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean operators (AND, OR or NOT). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.

    If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) instead of the words AND, OR or NOT, or if you are doing a range search in the Year field using a colon (:), try putting spaces around the symbols.

    Try using OR instead of AND between words. Using OR means either word can be present (john OR paul finds records containing either John or Paul). Using AND means both words must be present (john AND paul will not find just "John" or just "Paul").

    Search technology supplied by Inmagic, Inc.

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    Supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
    The materials on this site have neither been created nor reviewed by NIDA.
    Updated 5/2004 -- help.htm
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