Building Search Strings, Part 1: Boolean Operators


[MUSIC PLAYING] After generating search terms
for your research topic, you’re ready to start
searching for information. When searching in a library
database or on the internet, you may not initially
get the best results. In this two-part
tutorial, you’ll learn strategies to help
you combine search terms into effective search strings. This will put you in
control of your results. This video focuses on
the first strategy: using Boolean operators
to narrow or broaden your search results. In Boolean searching, these
three words, or operators, act as commands– AND, OR, and NOT. The three operators tell the
computer to do specific things with your search terms. Here’s how AND works. Using AND between
two search terms tells the system that
every search result must include both words. So how does using AND help you
when you’re doing a search? If you get too many
search results, adding a second
term with AND can help you narrow
your search results by focusing on just one
aspect of your topic. Let’s say you have to
write a report about having a dog as a pet, and you need
to cover the areas of training, grooming, diet, and exercise. If you just use the
search term dogs, you will get too many results. Focus your results by searching
for one aspect of your topic at a time. For example, first search
for dogs AND training. As you can see,
adding AND training removed all of the findings
that do not use both terms, resulting in far
fewer search results. Once you find what
you need, you can then search for dogs AND grooming,
dogs AND diet, and so on. Using the Boolean
operator AND can also help you avoid getting
results that have nothing to do with your topic. For example, let’s say you need
information about the disease AIDS. You complete a library database
search for just the term AIDS, and you get these results. As you can see,
only one of them has anything to do with the
disease known as AIDS. Now look what happens when
you combine the operator AND with a second
search term, disease. This narrows your search
results by clarifying what you’re looking for. As you can see, now
our results only include information related
to the disease of AIDS. The next Boolean operator is OR. Here’s how it works. Using OR between
two search terms tells the system
to include results that have one term or
the other term or both. So how does using OR help you
when you’re doing a search? It broadens your search
to get more results. OR gives you more. Here are three examples. Maybe your topic has a new name. For example, the country Myanmar
was formerly called Burma. Search for both words
to get the most results. Maybe your topic is known
by two different names. In some areas, a cougar
is called a puma. Maybe your topic has
two different spellings. In Great Britain, the word
colour is spelled with a U in it. So, the operators AND and
OR are basically opposites. AND narrows a search
while OR broadens it. The final Boolean
operator is NOT. Here’s how it works. NOT tells the
system that you want one search term and not the
other in your search results. So how does using NOT help you
when you’re doing a search? Well, you may not even
think about the fact that your term may
have multiple meanings. For example, when
you search for java, are you expecting results
for coffee, an island, or a computer program? If you’re getting a lot of
results that have nothing to do with your topic,
use a second term with NOT to eliminate results that
mention the second term. This narrows your results. Check out this example. Say everyone in your
class is researching a different marine animal. When you search
for dolphins, you get lots of results about the
Miami Dolphins football team. Using dolphins NOT football
will focus your results by excluding those
about the football team. So, NOT narrows your
search by eliminating results you do not want. Our examples illustrate how to
enter Boolean operators when searching in library databases. For an internet search
engine, check the search tips or help menus to see
how it uses Boolean. For example, Google
automatically uses the Boolean operator
AND between search terms. So all terms that you
enter in the search box will be included
in your results. To use the OR command,
you must enter the word OR between two terms. And Google uses the
minus sign for NOT. AND, OR, NOT. These three tiny words
make a huge difference in your search results. For specific examples
and for more information about this topic and the
entire research process, explore OSLIS. OSLIS– Learn to Research. Research to Learn.

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