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Database Search Strategies

What are Boolean Operators? 

Boolean operators are simple words (AND/NOT/OR) used as conjunctions to combine or exclude words in a search.

Boolean Operator - AND

If two words or phrases are connected by an AND, both are required to appear somewhere in the search result. AND must be capitalized and can be used multiple times within a search. 

  • "video games" AND teenagers 
  • gender AND Shakespeare 
  • rainbows AND unicorns 
  • memorization AND caffeine AND retention 
  • "college students" AND sororities AND "academic performance" 
  • "social media" AND email AND "baby boomers" 

Boolean Operator - OR 

Synonyms are words or phrases that mean exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase. OR must be capitalized and can be used multiple times within a search. 

  • car OR automobile
  • film OR movie 
  • obesity OR overweight 
  • "social media" OR "social platform"
  • "college student" OR "university student" 
  • children OR kids OR "school aged" 

Boolean Operator - NOT

Use NOT to exclude words or phrases from your search. NOT must be capitalized and can be used multiple times within a search. 

  • "animal cloning" NOT sheep
  • "video games" NOT teenagers
  • children NOT "United States"
  • "obsessive-compulsive disorder NOT treatment NOT therapy 

Boolean Operators - combine AND/OR/NOT

You can use some or all of the boolean operators (AND/OR/NOT) together to create a specific search:  

  • yellow AND red NOT blue
  • alcoholism OR "alcohol abuse" NOT "alcoholics anonymous" 
  • "childhood obesity" AND "academic performance" NOT Canada
  • "animal cloning" OR "animal duplication" AND jellyfish NOT sheep 
  • "white bread" OR "wheat bread" AND meat NOT hamburger