Skip to Main Content

How to search: Emerald Advanced Searching

This guide will show you how to search in the different Unisa Library resources to find relevant information for your research needs

Request a Literature Search

Need sources for your literature review? Struggling to find sources for your assignment, research proposal or thesis?

The Library can assist with a literature search, which is a systematic and comprehensive search for published, academic material on your specific subject/topic. How do you request one? Simply go to Request a literature search .

If you are experiencing problems accessing the form, please use this link


Advanced Search Tips

When searching the Emerald collection, it is important to remember that the entire full-text of the documents is searchable - indicated by Anywhere from the drop-down menu. 



You can perform a search across all Emerald content using either the Search tool at the top of each page or the Advanced Search tool on this page. If you are a registered user of the site, you can save your search criteria in order to re-run the search later. By default, search results are sorted by relevance.

Quick search

• Enter your word or phrase in the search box at the top of the page
• Use the drop-down menu to specify the type of content for which you  are searching
• Select ‘Search’

Advanced search

• Select the ‘Advanced search’ link
• Enter your word or phrase in the  search box
• Refine your search by selecting  the field in which you wish  to search
• Use the drop down options to  access the Boolean operators:  ‘AND’, ‘OR’, ‘NOT’

Narrow your search further by  using the content and publication  date filters



Use the Boolean Operators AND (also + or &), OR, and NOT (also -) in search terms to specify logical relationships between terms. By default, the AND relationship is used. For example, to search for publications with the keyword “computer” but without the keyword “software”, enter the text “computer NOT software”, select “Keyword”, and click “Search”.


To override the default use of the AND relationship between search terms, enclose the terms in quotation marks. This creates a search for the exact phrase you have enclosed in quotation marks. For example, an Abstract search for the terms “library” and “science” returns all publications with both terms in their abstracts. However, an Abstracts search for the phrase “library science” enclosed in quotation marks only returns publications with the exact phrase “library science” in their abstracts.

Proximity searches:

A proximity search allows you to find words that are a within a specific distance within a document. Use the "~" symbol with a distance number at the end of the phrase.

E.G. to search for "stimulate" and "growth" within 10 words of each other in a document the search term would be "stimulate growth~10".

Wild Cards

Wild cards allow you to construct a query with approximate search terms. Use a question mark (?) in a search term to represent any one character that falls between two other characters, and use an asterisk (*) to represent zero or more characters in the middle or at the end of a search string. There are two limitations of wild cards: (1) They cannot be used at the beginning of a search text, and (2) they cannot be used in a phrase enclosed in quotation marks. Also note that a question mark(?) at the end of a string is treated as a literal. Further help can be found to the right of the Advanced Search screen


After you run a search, a Refine Search panel displays to the right of the search results page. You can further refine your search results by selecting one of the listed filters. For example, click on one of the listed Keywords to further limit the search results to publications with that keyword.


Author search includes exact matching. For example, a search for James Smith returns results for James H. C. Smith and James G. Smith, but not for J. Smith. If an initial search using the full author name does not return the desired results, try revising your search to include only the first initial and full last name. You can search for multiple authors using Boolean Operators between author names, for example, “John Smith OR Sally Baker” or “Smith AND Baker” or “John Smith NOT Baker”.


After you have run a search, you can save your search criteria, enabling you to easily re-run the same search in the future. To save a search or run a saved search, you must be logged in as a Registered Personal User of Emerald Insight. You can also sign up for search alerts, which email you the results of the selected search at the specified time interval.