Searching Techniques

Searching Techniques

  • Most databases do not support natural language searching.  You have to be precise in the words that you select. Follow these instructions when using Boolean operators, AND, OR, NOT
    • Join different concepts together using AND
    • Use AND when the concepts are not related such as cities AND society. This narrows the search as both of those words must be in the information that is being returned.
    • Use OR when the concepts are similar, and it does not matter which word is found in the information that is being returned.  For instance, elderly OR geriatric OR aged. This broadens the search.
    • Use NOT to exclude a word. For example: cloning NOT sheep
    • Use truncation (* asterisk) when you want to allow for several spellings or variations on a word. For example: soci* can stand for social, socialization, society, societies, sociology, sociological, etc.
    • Tip: If you wish to replace exactly 1 letter, use ? question mark rather than * asterisk. Example: wom?n, globali?ation
    • Complex search strings are evaluated left to right so make sure that you are grouping concepts together correctly, use parentheses.  For instance, Canad* AND (elderly OR aged) AND (income OR pension)

 

Content last reviewed: July 28, 2020