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:
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.|
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.|
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.|
- Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
- Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
- Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
- When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.
Keyword Searching Examples
Variety of terms: If you are looking for items on the "movies", use additional keywords such as "film", "films", "cinema", or "motion pictures".
An example of retrieving results unrelated to your topic (false drops): using the keyword "cricket" will retrieve items about the sport as well as the insect.
An example of using keywords to find titles when you are unsure of the exact title:
Both CAGED and BIRD are in 6 titles.
There are 6 entries with CAGED & BIRD.
You searched for the WORDS: bird caged
Found 6 items:
- Caged bird medicine : selected topics / Charles V. Steiner (1981)
- I know why the caged bird sings (1969)
- Many voices. 8A-6B (sound recording) : for Adventures for re (1986)
- Maya Angelou / Miles Shapiro (1994)
- Poco / by Garry and Vesta Smith; illustrated by Fred Crump (1975)
- Voices in Black & White : writings on race in America from H (1993)
Some databases allow for wild cards to be embedded within a word to replace a single character. For instance, in InfoTrac, you can also use the question mark (?) within a word to replace a character. For example:
wom?n will retrieve woman or women
- Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
- Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,
bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.
- Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
- Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:
cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.
It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).
CSUN Policy on Plagiarism
. . .Cheating or plagiarism in connection with an academic program at a campus is listed in Section 41301, Title 5, California Code of Regulations, as an offense for which a student may be expelled, suspended, or given a less severe disciplinary sanction. . . .
(California State University Northridge Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog, 2008-2010 (PDF), Appendix E-2. Academic Dishonesty, p. 587)
Plagiarism: Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, or work of another as one's own in any academic exercise. Comments:
- Direct Quotation: Every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks, or by appropriate indentation or by other means of identification, and must be promptly cited in a citation. Proper citation style for any academic department is outlined by the MLA Style Sheet or K. L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. These and similar publications are available in the Matador Bookstore and at the reference desk of the Oviatt Library. [See also: Citing Your Sources: Style Guides]
- Paraphrase: Prompt acknowledgment is required when material from another source is paraphrased or summarized in whole or in part in your own words. To acknowledge a paraphrase properly, one might state: "to paraphrase Locke's comment . . ." and conclude with a citation identifying the exact reference. A citation acknowledging only a directly quoted statement does not suffice to notify the reader of any preceding or succeeding paraphrased material.
- Borrowed Facts or Information: Information obtained in one's reading or research which is not common knowledge among students in the course must be acknowledged. Examples of common knowledge might include the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, etc. Materials which contribute only to one's general understanding of the subject may be acknowledged in the bibliography and need not be immediately cited. One citation is usually sufficient to acknowledge indebtedness when a number of connected sentences in the paper draw their special information from one source. When direct quotations are used, however, quotation marks must be inserted and prompt acknowledgment is required.
(California State University Northridge Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog, 2010-2012, Appendix E-2. Academic Dishonesty) (Retrieved December 6, 2010)
Limiting Search Results in the Library Catalog
You may further refine your search results by selecting when it is available.
Basic keyword searches and Advanced searches can be limited prior to submitting the search, or after by selecting . Search limits include publication date, language, material type, publisher, and location. Sorting results by year is also an option.
Narrow or Broaden Your Search
Use AND between terms to narrow your search
example: television and violence and children
Use OR and/or truncate (*, ?) words to broaden your search
example: children or youth or adolescents
example: child* (will find child, children, etc.) Note: check online help for the correct truncation symbol
Access Databases from Off Campus
Only current CSUN students, faculty and staff can access our databases from off campus. To access the databases from off campus, click the name of the database. You will then see a screen asking you to log in, using your CSUN User ID and password (the same ID and password you use to log in to the portal).
Using Google Scholar
You can find items the Oviatt Library owns using Google Scholar's capabilities. To activate the capabilities for your browser:
- Select Settings in the upper right, then Library links from the left menu.
- In the search box, type "CSUN" and select Find Library.
- Check the box next to "CSU, Northridge (SFX Find It)"
- Then select Save.
Select the SFX Find It at CSUN link (to the right of the article) or the SFX: Additional Options link (located below the article description) for access to online full text, Oviatt Library holdings information, and Interlibrary Loan.