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Searching Tips & Strategies

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Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)


         Connecting words such as AND, OR, NOT help you to expand (OR) or limit (AND, NOT) your search by connecting your topic and each of your main points. 

 “AND” different concepts together to narrow your search.  
“OR” synonyms, different forms of the word, or related terms to expand your search.


If my topic is discrimination of women in the workplace, I might combine my keywords like the example below.  

  • There are three different concepts here: discrimination, women, workplace.  These concepts should be AND-ed together.

  • Synonyms should be OR-ed. 
  • This example below also includes truncation.

discriminat* AND (women or female*) AND (work OR employ* OR job*)

The above logical statement translates into this Advanced Search:


Again, the concepts between the "AND"s are different.  The words "OR"ed together are synonyms for or represent the same concept. This search will find different combinations and permutations of the words above (think associative algebra).  


HINT:  Use Advanced Search in the Library Catalog or databases to help construct your Boolean query! 

In the Google Scholar Advanced Search 

  • All of these”=AND;
  • Any of these”=OR;
  • As a phrase”=quotation marks around search terms.

See a demonstration of how Boolean operators work at The Boolean Machine .