Boolean Searching

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Boolean searching is a way of "talking to"

databases to help it interpret what you're

searching for and to obtain more relevant

results when searching the library databases.

The most commonly used Boolean operators





Using Boolean operators helps you focus

your search, particularly when you are using

multiple search terms.


The database on the right is called

Academic Search Complete.

Different databases contain information

pulled from different types of journals,

magazines, newspapers, etc. We  

have the option to specify our results to

only Full Text Articles and  Scholarly

(Peer Reviewed) Journal Articles.

We are going to use Academic Search

Complete to become expert searchers

using Boolean Operators.


By the way, using quotation marks around

a phrase tells the database to only retrieve

articles with those two terms together.

This is particularly important when searching

for proper names. Try entering George

in the basic search box on the

right side of the page (databases are not case

sensitive so it's not necessary to capitalize

words when searching). Don't click the Full Text

Box this time.


Look at the number of results

at the top of the page. 45,856 is way

too many results! Without the quotation

marks each term is retrieved separately.

Let's try a search using quotation marks

around his name. Well that took it down

to 27,779 results - which is still way too

many! So now, lets try our hand at some

Boolean searching.

Try adding and president - That brought it

down to 2,244 results, which is still too many!

Try adding and hero. Finally, we get some

manageable results.

How many results did you get? Choose the number closest to your results as the database articles change daily.

Keep in mind that if you use Boolean

within a phrase enclosed

in quotation marks, the operator is

treated at a stop word. Every single

word will be searched for... So we just

want our Quotation Marks around

"George Washington"
not all the

search terms.

Now, let's look for some current articles

about the TV series, "The Simpsons".

Enter the simpsons in the basic search

box. Once again, too many search results,

none of which look like they're about the

TV show. Let's add some Boolean terms to

our search. Try searching the simpsons

and tv.

Click the Basic Search Link under the

Search Box. Click the Full Text Box.

The Full Text Box is very important!

Remember to make sure it's checked

before you do any kind of search!

You must click it again before every

new search!




Or combines search terms so that each

result contains at least one of the terms.

An example of this might be "college

OR "university students"

and stress.





 What if we need an article about computer

mice? The boolean operator NOT can come

in handy here. Try a search using computer

mice not rodent
. We're still getting articles

about experiments using mice. This is where

quotation marks are very helpful. Try

"computer mice" not rodents.

the  database understands what we want!


How many articles did your search retrieve? Choose the number closest to your results.




Once again, we can use quotation marks

around phrases. Try typing "California

earthquakes" and predictions. Don't

forget the Full Text Box!

These results are much more promising! How many articles did you get?


Let's try another search. Type "global

warming" and "polar bears."

quotation marks tells the database to only

return articles having both terms together.

You can see in your results list in the

field under the article that most

of these contain both terms. If you just see

one of the terms listed, open the article, hit

Ctrl F on your keyboard and type in polar bear -

that will highlight every time the words polar

bear appear within the article. It is a quick way

to see how relevant the article is to your topic.

Use the quotation marks for proper names

also. The more you practice using these

techniques, the better researcher you will

become. This will help you in all your classes.

The further along you get in your college

careers, the more you will be required to use

scholarly sources for research. Practice

using your new knowledge of Boolean Operators!

Happy Searching!



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