CS 3604 Research Resources: Search Strategies

A Bit of History

Boolean operators are named for George Boole (1815-1864), an English Mathematician and Philosopher.  Boolean Algebra and Symbolic Logic both derive from his work.  Boole is generally considered the father of modern computer science.  Most electronic indexes (databases) require the use of Boolean operators in parsing search terms, although this is not always apparent.  Boolean search statements are incredibly powerful in retrieving what you need provided 1) the statement is formatted correctly and 2) your choice of search terms is correct for the topic you are researching.  

Boolean Searching

Rather than typing a full sentence or question into a search box, using Boolean operators can help you create an efficient and effective database search.

Try our new Search Strategy Builder, which will create searches out of keywords that you supply!

In order to use Boolean operators, you need to know:

Boolean operators

  • AND:  both terms that you connect with AND must be somewhere in the bibliographic record for that record to be retrieved.  AND narrows a search and retrieves fewer articles
  • OR:  only one of the search terms combined with OR is required for the bibliographic record t5o be retrieved.  OR broadens a search and retrieves more articles
  • NOT:  excludes a particular subset, category, or term.  NOT requires the presence of one search term and the exclusion of another.

Take a look at an example of a Boolean search here: http://library.albany.edu/subject/tutorials/education/boolean.html 

Truncation:  A symbol, specific to the search interface, which allows the retrieval of all endings for the specified base word. An asterisk (*) isoften used.  For example, child* would retrieve records with children, childish, and every other word that begins with the root word "child."  

Wildcard:  A symbol, specific to the search interface, which allows the retrieval of various spellings of a word. A questio mark is often used.  For example, wom?n would retrieve records with women or woman. 

Computer Science Liaison

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