Online Searching: Truncation & Filter Errors

Online Searching: Truncation & Filter Errors

Can you believe that many people use truncation and filters wrongly while doing online searching? You may not. But it is happening all the time! 

From January 2022, QMed has been hosting mini webinars every Tuesday and Friday, with two objectives:

  1. Promoting awareness of our work and our e-learning courses
  2. Motivating those who have enrolled in our courses to finish them

In these webinars, in every session we cover a specific topic. And we teach a little about the topic. More importantly point out how much we cover in our courses. And that way, people know what they miss, if they do not enrol and finish the courses.

A few days back, the session was on Truncation and Filters. We usually start by taking a mini test – usually two questions – to assess the knowledge gaps. This time our questions were as below:


  • If I need to retrieve results with the terms Diabetic retinopathy, Diabetic nephropathy, Diabetic Ketoacidosis, I need to search Diabetic*


  • You search the term Cerebral Malaria in PubMed. If you add a filter (eg – Review articles) you get less results. Now if you add another filter you definitely get still less results

Out of eight who attended, five answered the test questions. And guess what?

All five gave wrong answers for the first.
And two gave wrong answers for the second.

In fact when we shared the results and explained the correct methods, one participant said “You really caught me with this one!”

Now we wish to see the day when everyone gets these answers right. Not just these, but also the use of Tags, Boolean operators, Filters and Truncations done right. These are vital, for good online searching and crucial hours will be saved if done right.

Isn’t it vital that we help our health professionals and students save precious time?

*The correct answers are:

  1. False. If I search Diabetic* – I will retrieve Diabetic or Diabetics. Even if I do not add * at the end of the word Diabetic – I would retrieve all the conditions mentioned
  2. False – In some cases adding a second filter increases the number of results

Let us know if you knew / did not know the correct answers – do write to 🙂  And if you did not – it would be great if you enrolled in our courses – !

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