The asterisk (*) is the truncation character, which is used to replace one or more characters. This symbol can be used at the end (right truncation) or in the middle of a word to improve the search string. There are several wild symbols that can be used in various databases, such as EBSCOhost and ProQuest. Each document in each ProQuest database is indexed to capture individual bits of information about the document.
You can use indexed search fields to create very accurate searches and use wildcard characters and truncation when searching for documents that contain spelling variants or words that start with the same character string. Parentheses can be used to set the order of execution of boolean logic, although this feature is not available on all systems. The asterisk is the most common truncation symbol, but depending on the platform you use to search a particular database, other symbols may be available. For example, computer* will recover computers, computerized, computerized, etc.
Advanced search techniques may include citations to force phrase search or to disable lemmatization (database dependent), truncation, wildcards, proximity operators, and specific search fields (such as title, subject, etc.). At the end or in the middle of a string, variations of a search term are retrieved using a truncation symbol. This replaces up to 5 characters and is available on most systems. Best Match is now the default and can be attached to a MeSH term (availability depends on the MeSH term) or searched as a floating subtitle.
Wildcards can be used anywhere in the word, even at the beginning. The question mark (?) Represents any individual character and retrieves articles containing their words, in their given order, within a specified number (n) of words from each other. Using a truncation symbol in search terms tells the system to search for the word you type along with any other word that has the same root. In ProQuest, the asterisk (*) is the recognized truncation symbol.
If you want to narrow or broaden your search, you may want to find out whether truncation and proximity operators are available in the database you are using. For example, building with a truncation symbol will search for construction, building, buildings, constructor, etc. A truncation symbol before a prefix or root word says: let the word start this way, I don't care how it ends. Truncation is very useful when you know that one of the search terms has multiple endings but all variations represent basically the same idea.
Using truncation will help you complete your search faster as you don't have to manually type and search every variation of the word. Truncation symbols are abbreviated characters that can help include variations of the word from the text without having to type each variation in the search separately.