The library's databases rely on a method of searching called Boolean logic. It is a system of showing the relationship between ideas using the operators "AND," "OR," and "NOT." This logic is recognized by many searching tools as a way to define a search string.
Using the operators
AND is used to to search a set of two or more related ideas. So, if you want to look for articles that contain both the words or concepts fishery and harvest, you would search for that string.
- Use AND to narrow your search
- AND shows the overlap between two concepts
For example, my search for "fishery and harvest" returned over 2,000 results, which is too many for me to browse through. So, I had to think another aspect of the topic I was interested in. When I changed my search string to "fishery and harvest and bioindicators," the number of results became more manageable.
OR is used when there are synonyms of a term that may appear in relevant articles. Searching, for example, reindeer or caribou will cast the widest net for seraching.
- Use OR to broaden your search
NOT eliminates a term from your search. If, for instance, your initial search for "fishery and harvest" returns mostly articles about salmon, and you are not interested in that particular fish, you can search "fishery and harvest not salmon."
The databases will allow you a variety of options to refine your results, typically on the left hand side of your results page. Pay attention to these and especially consider limiting your results by their publication date. Chances are, you do not want articles written more than a few years ago.
If you are searching for content about, for instance, higher education, consider that this is actually a phrase (consisting of more than one word), and search for it explicitly using quotation marks. As in, "higher education."
In many cases, there will be multiple suffixes to a single root word that you'd like to search. Most databases allow the * to be used in place of the ending for a word in order to capture all forms.
For example, a search for "nation*" will return all forms of the word - including nations, national, nationalism, nationalistic, etc.
Avoid adding the plural "s" to a word where possible, and use the truncation symbol when you search should allow for multiple forms of your search terms.