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Sociology & Anthropology Capstone - SOAN 400 - Herr

Boolean Operators

AND

Combine both terms with the connector AND if you want both terms to show up in your results.

ex. education AND immigrants

  • This will have the effect of narrowing your search results
  • Most subscription databases combine terms with AND by default. This means, if you have a space between terms the database will most likely search using AND.
  • The AND functions like + in internet search engines.

 

OR

Combine the terms with the connector OR if you are using synonymous terms and you want one or the other or both terms to show up in the results.

ex. vehicles OR cars OR automobiles OR motor vehicles

  • This will have the effect of broadening your search results
  • Many internet search engines, like Google, default to an OR search. This is why it feels like you get more hits if you type in more words.

 

NOT

Combine terms with NOT if you want to omit specific results from your search.

ex. Renaissance NOT Harlem

  • Be careful using NOT. You can easily eliminate a relevant result if the word you are excluding appears in the article.

Phrase Searching

If you want to find an exact phrase, put your search terms in "quotation marks" .

ex. "Illegal Immigration"

  • This will have an effect of narrowing your results
  • Using quotation marks will only retrieve results with the words in the exact order in which you have placed them in quotation marks.

Truncation

If you want to find every possible form of a word, use the truncation symbol at the end of a word root.

ex. educ* retrieves education, educator, educating, educational, educate

  • Like proximity operators, truncation symbols may vary in databases. In EBSCO, the truncation symbol is an asterisk *. In NexisUni, the truncation symbol is an exclamation mark !

**To ensure you are using the correct symbol, you can always consult the database help guide.

Proximity Operators

Near Operator (Any Order)

Finds the words if they are within five words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear. Use N#

ex. tax N5 reform

  • Finds tax reform as well as reform of income taxes.
  • This can be helpful if you are not sure of the order of the words.

Within Operator (Same Order)

Finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.. Use W#

ex. tax W8 reform

  • would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

*Use of N# and W# applies specifically to any EBSCO database. Proximity operators are usable in most databases, though their symbols/characters may vary. To ensure you are using the correct characters, you can always consult the database help guide.

Additional Information

Sharpening the Search Saw: Lessons from Expert Searchers is an article written by Virginia Tucker. This short article explains the advanced searching techniques discussed here in more detail. Click here to read this article.