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Boolean Searching Tutorial
Transcript of Boolean Searching Tutorial
The Operators are special words (AND, OR, NOT) that connect the search terms for your topic.
Using Boolean search techniques, you can put together complex, multi-concept searches.
One benefit of using Boolean searching: your results will be more precise -- and more useful!
Databases and Google: A Comparison
Pro-Tips: Subject Headings (SH)
Using the essay worksheet provided, use the search strategies we discussed to research the following questions in Academic Search Complete:
1. How does divorce affect children's academic performance?
Prepared by your Friendly Librarian, Cassie La Voie, MLIS
An Easy-Peasy Guide to Better Database Searching
Google uses "natural language" (fig. 1) to perform your searches.
Databases don't work this way -- you must enter your search using terms that it will understand.
Instead, they use BOOLEAN LOGIC/OPERATORS in order to understand what you are looking for.
Searching Google vs. Searching Library Databases
Basic Search Theory
Using Subject Headings
AND: Retrieves articles that include all your linked concepts.
The more terms you link using AND, the fewer results you'll get.
Genetically modified food (fig. 1)
Genetically modified food AND United States (fig. 2)
Use OR to BROADEN/INCREASE your search results.
OR searches for articles in which either term is located along with your other search terms.
You can also use OR to search for SYNONYMS at the same time
Example: (Batman OR The Dark Knight).When you search terms using
OR in between, you muuuuust place them between PARENTHESES and in CAPITAL LETTERS.
Example 1: (alcohol OR liquor).
Example 2: (university OR college OR post secondary education)
Bonus Tips to Increase Search Results
Truncation: Allows the database to search variations of a word at the same time
Use an asterisk * at the point where a word might change its meaning
Canad*=Canada, Canada's, Canadians
Wild Card: Databases only look for what you tell it to! If you search for "woman" it will not know to search for "women" also.
Use a question mark where the spelling might change to search both variations at once
One More! (Quotation Marks)
Use quotation marks around a search term that has more than one word or a phrase
Quotation marks tell the database to search for those words in that exact order
Example: "Winnipeg General Strike"
SH indicate the contents of books in terms that their titles may not use.
Using a "keyword" search will find your term ANYWHERE in the bibliographic record (information including author, notes, publisher, etc. found on an item's information page ).
An item may not be helpful if your term is mentioned once or twice in the item or used in a different context.
Headings are used to define the most important subjects of a a book or article.
SH are located in databases on the search page under THESAURUS, SUBJECT TERMS, or INDEX.
The thesaurus will: identify controlled vocabulary terms (more on that later); provide definitions, parameters of terms; suggest alternative terms
Limit your searches of SH to one or two only.
SH also allow us to skip trying to think of synonyms
Instead of searching for (Adolescents OR youth OR teens OR teenagers) we can simply search for Teenagers as an umbrella term -- even if authors use other terms
Using Subject Headings
SH are a form of "controlled vocabulary"
A controlled vocabulary is a single term used to describe a concept -- without using other words and phrases that could describe the same concept
They are a predetermined collection of words that can represent:
events (Gavin, 90)
Ultimately, they will bring together similar documents to reduce ambiguity
Controlled Vocabulary with SH
I need to find articles related to teen dads using Academic Search Complete
How could we describe this topic using other terms?
How would Academic Search Complete classify our topic?
A Very Brief Intro to Good Search Foundations
After topic selection: Break your topic down to its essential parts, by selecting words to describe your concept
Beware the "fluff" words! Although they are indeed important to your question, databases do not recognise the following words as concepts on their own
Example: effect, relationship, consequence,
Using Boolean logic automatically implies you are searching for relationships between these concepts
Be conscious of how a database or scholar may describe a topic and avoid colloquial words
Example: Instead of using "old people" try "geriatrics" "the elderly" "the aged" "senior citizens"
What about the word "kids?"
The Truncation Game
Correctly choose where to truncate the following words to get the most spelling variations.
Searching is rarely a smooth process
Be realistic of your expectations of your results
Your goal is not to find your exact thesis in a paper
Before delving into databases, understand your topic thorougly using reference sources and books
Practice and familiarize yourself with the different databases
Need More Help? Just Ask!
Email me 24/7 -- I always respond within 24 hours
Office Hours: Tuesdays 9-3 C-310 Room L
Please make an appointment with a description of your research question and/or assignment