Library Resources for English 114B: Search Strategies

 

Learn how to do research faster, easier and more efficiently!

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

Or Relationship Image

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

And Relationship Image

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

Not Relationship Image

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.

Search for Articles

Choose Keywords

Choose keywords that represent the important ideas you want the articles to contain. Given the topic the effect of television violence on children, you might choose television, violence and children as your keywords.

For more information, see Developing a Search Strategy.

Combine Keywords Using AND and OR (Boolean Operators) to Refine Your Search

Tell the database how to combine your keywords using Boolean operators.

  • If you want all of the keywords to appear in every article, put AND between them in the search box. Example: television AND violence AND children
  • To have the database search for articles where either of two terms appears, put OR between the terms in the search box. Example: teenagers OR adolescents

For more information, see Boolean Searching and Truncation.

Refine Your Search Using Limits and Field-Specific Searches

There are two options for refining your search beyond specifying keywords.

  • Field-specific searches: the database looks for a keyword in only a specific field, such as author, title, abstract, or publication title. Look for a field drop-down box next to the search box.
  • Limiters: additional fields that appear on the search page such as scholarly (or peer-reviewed), date of publication, and article type. For example, you can select the scholarly limiter and the database returns only scholarly articles.

Printing and Saving Articles in PDF Format

If you are viewing an article in PDF format, use the print and save icons in the Adobe Reader frame. Do not use File > Print, File > Save, Ctrl+P, or Ctrl+S because these commands cause the file to print or save incorrectly.