Boolean Searching: A search technique that uses Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) to limit or widen your search.
Boolean operators define the relationship between your search terms, allowing you to refine and focus your results.
- AND narrows your results by linking two terms together
- OR widens your results by bringing up results that have one term or another
- NOT restricts your search by excluding the term directly following it - it's a great operator to use if your search is retrieving a lot of irrelevant results!
Guided Practice in Academic Search Ultimate
Limit and Refine
- Scroll down to the icons on the Library homepage. Click on the middle icon, "Databases by Subject & A-Z" (it is an orange computer logo with 'A-Z' on its screen).
- This is the list of all the Library databases. Since it is organized alphabetically by default, "Academic Search Ultimate" should be the fifth result. It is a broad, multidisciplinary database and a great place to start your research. Click on the title to enter the database.
- In Academic Search Ultimate, type "art" and "music" in the first and second search bars with the boolean operator, AND, between the two search terms (as shown below). Before the second and third search bars you will see drop-down menus with the word AND. This a drop-down menu for boolean operators and can be changed to NOT and OR. Click search, then repeat with the following examples to see how your results change.
- art AND music = 108,749 results
- art AND music NOT science = 104,138 results
- art AND music NOT science NOT dance = 98,414 results
We see that the NOT operator yields the least results and allows us to search more specifically.
Widen and Expand
- Get rid of your last two search terms "science" and "dance." Between "art" and "music" change the drop-down menu from "AND" to "OR" as shown below in #1. Hit "Search."
- art OR music = 1,326,355 results
We see that the OR operator actually yields the most results and makes our search much broader.
You can also use synonyms or alternate spellings to expand your search. Trial and error is the best way to get results that work for you and your research.