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LEP 100: Search Tips

Boolean Searching

You can use Boolean search terms to help connect different ides when searching in OneSearch or a database.

There are three different Boolean terms: AND, OR, and NOT. Each term is used for a different purpose.

AND - put AND in between different concepts or parts of a research question to link them together. For example:

"comic books" AND illustration

AND will bring back a smaller list of results

OR - put OR in between similar or synonymous concepts. For example:

"comic books" OR "graphic novels"

OR will bring back a larger list of results

NOT - use NOT when you want to eliminate a word or concept from your results list. For example:

"comic books" NOT "comic strips"

Phrase Searching

When conducting a search in OneSearch or a database, you can use quotation marks to search for a particular phrase.

For example, you might be searching for articles about comic books. Instead of typing comic books into the search bar, try adding quotation marks and type "comic books". Without those quotation marks, the database is looking for any article record that has either the word comic, the word books, or the phrase comic books. By placing the quotation marks around your phrase, you are telling the database to only find results with those two words next to each other.

Keep in mind that if you do use quotes, put them around terms that make sense next to each other. If you put "comic book illustration" in quotes, the database needs to find those three words in a row. While that might happen in some cases, it will likely weed out several articles on your topic that could be useful to you.

Truncation

Take advantage of the truncation symbol * -- the asterisk used at the end of a word tells the search engine you want all forms of that word.

For example, putting the * at the end of motivat* will search for motivate, motivating, and motivation all in one search.

This will result in a larger search result set...so if your search is already too big, this isn't a great tool to use.  On the other hand, if you're not sure you're getting a good glimpse at all of the articles you should be, then doing a truncation search can help you see more!