Search Tips

Search Strategies Using Boolean Operators and Other Operators

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT, ( ), “ ”, *, ?

  • Using AND always narrows a search
  • Using AND tells the database that ALL search terms must be included in the search results
  • ex. jazz AND blues. This search finds articles that mention or compare both jazz and blues
  • Using OR always broadens a search
  • Use OR to connect two synonyms or similar concepts
  • ex. jazz OR blues. This search finds articles that discuss either jazz or blues
  • Use NOT to exclude items from your search
  • ex. jazz NOT blues. This search finds articles that are exclusively about jazz. NOT always excludes records with the specified term
Parentheses or Nesting
  • ex. (sex OR gender) AND salary
  • Sometimes a focused search will need to combine several related words for one idea with another word or words
  •  The parentheses ensure that we get the expected results
  • ex. “leader-member exchange”. Searching with quotations allows for an exact phrase to be searched with no deviation in word order
Truncation or Stemming
  • ex. know*. This search uses a “wildcard” to search for a part of a word or a word that may have several endings. Searching with the (*) wildcard will return results for knowledge, knowing, knows, etc. This symbol can vary between databases

Other Search Strategies

Proximity Searches (Make sure to visit the help or about page of the individual database to determine how to specifically use proximity searching–it varies!)
  • Near: This type of search allows you to specify how close one word is to another in the document. ex. stimulate growth ~10. The resulting search will return documents with stimulate and growth within 10 words of another. Databases are often different in how they accomplish proximity searching. Some use the (~) symbol while others specify a letter and number. ex. stimulate N10 growth. (N stands for near)
  • Within:  Within allows a search of multiple terms within a specific number of words and in the order they are entered. ex. Tax W8 reform will return results of both tax and reform within eight words of one another and in that specific word order
Tutorials for Databases
  • B-On (Tutorials for all B-On supplied databases including: Ebsco, Elsevier, Springer, Web of Science and more
  • EconLit
  • Emerald