Wildcards are tools that add power to Boolean searches. Wildcards allow different word endings to be accounted for using just one symbol. Usually this symbol is the asterisk (*). When a wildcard is placed at the end of a root word, any possible endings can be added to the root.
For example, a search for information about management could be done with the search term manag*. As a result, articles mentioning manage, manager, managers, management, and managing would all appear in the search results.
When using wildcards, place the wildcard symbol where the variation in word endings is most likely to begin. Making the root word too short may retrieve unwanted results. For example, man* would retrieve not only the desired information about management, but also unwanted information about man, people named Manuel, etc.
Wildcard Searching Step-by-Step
Step 1: Formulate your search using appropriate keywords
Example: stress and management and students
Step 2: Identify keywords that may have varying word endings.
Example: management, manage, managing, student, students, etc.
Step 3: Use a wildcard to allow for varying word endings
Example: stress and manag* and student*
Step 4: Run the search in an appropriate database.
Note: Most databases use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard.