Search Syntax

Synthesis has a powerful search language to let you quickly find references within your project.

Search terms and phrases

Individual terms (words) e.g. behavior risk factor surveillance match references that contain all of the words independently.

Entire phrases in quotes e.g. "Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System" match references that contain the phrase.

Boolean Operators

AND, OR, and NOT (must be capitalized) can be used for more complex queries.

Operator Example Notes
AND "diabetes" AND "hypertension"  
OR "diabetes" OR "hypertension"  
NOT "diabetes" NOT "hypertension"  
+ +"goodness of fit" Include references that include the phrase "goodness of fit"
- -"goodness of fit" Exclude references that include the phrase "goodness of fit"
( ) year:2010 AND (title:ICU OR title:surgery)  


Partial terms can be matched with wildcard characters * and ?

Wildcard Example Notes
* dia* Match terms that begin with dia (e.g. dialog, diabetic)
? reali?e Match terms with any character substituting for ? (e.g. realise, realize)

Proximity Search

Proximity searches allow you to find documents where certain terms appear close together.

e.g. "health survey"~10 matches documents where "health" and "survey" appear within ten words of each other.

Searching within specific reference fields

By default, Synthesis looks within the title, abstract, and full text (if the PDF has been downloaded) for any terms entered. It is possible to search within specific fields by preprending the term or phrase with the the name of the field.

If a specific column needs to be targetted with the search, the column name and keyword can be entered in the search filter. A colon is used to seperate the column name from the keyword (e.g. author:smith OR title:ICU)

Note: A simple way to get the column name is to Right Click on the column that you desire, and select the option "Filter by this cell". This will then add the column with the associated value ot the search filter bar. See Filter Cells.

Table 1. Column Names and Examples
Column Name Example
primary_include_abstract primary_include_abstract:"Included"
primary_include_fulltext primary_include_fulltext:"Included"
secondary_include_abstract secondary_include_abstract:"Excluded"
secondary_include_fulltext secondary_include_fulltext:"Excluded"
havepdf havepdf:"Yes"
year year:2017

year:[2010 TO 2015]

author author:smith
title title:"patient flow"
journal journal:BMC
issue issue:16
custom column All user defined columns will have the prefix custom_ attached to the column name. So, to search on a custom column named disease for sepsis, you would need to go custom_disease:sepsis

Other Notes and Troubleshooting

The Search Filter language can do a variety of the

  • Range: To specify a range to query, such as a range of years, you need to
    • year:[2008 TO 2009]
  • To search a column that contains any value (i.e. exclude the missing values):
    • custom_Disease:[* TO *]
  • To search a column for missing (null) values:
    • *:* AND NOT havepdf:[* TO *]