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UH 4504 SuperStudio: Building searches

Boolean Operators

Databases use three primary operators to determine how you want your search to be run:

  • OR will find synonyms
    • forests OR woods
  • AND will combine ideas
    • air AND pollution
  • NOT will exclude terms
    • mustang NOT car

Use "" for phrase searches

Additionally, the use of () will allow the database to know how you want your search terms to be interpreted:

("first year experience" OR FYE) AND (activities OR assignments) AND engagement

will bring much more relevant results than if you ran the search like: 

"first year experience" OR FYE AND activities OR assignments AND engagement

as the use of the parentheses let the database know which terms should be used as synonyms, and which terms needed to be present as a separate concept. 

Search Strategy Builder

Search Strategy Builder

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database, you can cut and paste the results into the standard database search box as the parentheses will dictate how the search should be interpreted.

  Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3

Extract the major concepts from your topic and enter them here.

List alternatives for each concept.

  • These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.
  • Use single words or short phrases.
  • Find additional terms in abstracts and summaries of the articles, books, and other sources you find during initial searches.
Search terms Search terms Search terms

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Search Strategy Builder created by University of Arizona Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.