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Finding and Evaluating Resources

Boolean searching

The use of AND, OR, and NOT


The use of "OR"

    Music OR download

Any of the words
Default for many search engines
   - results may have relevance ranking

Music (50,000 hits)   -   Download (100,000 hits)   ⇒   All records 120,000 hits
(Why not 150,000? some overlap!)


The use of "AND"

    Music AND download

Every record MUST have both terms
Music (50,000 hits)   -   Download (100,000 hits)   ⇒   AND results 30,000 hits
Music AND download


The use of "NOT"

      Music NOT download

Avoid using - use AND/OR in 'nested searches'
Can leave out best articles/books/sites
If you say Music NOT download and the we site says "This is true of traditional sites but not download sites"
You've missed the perfect article


Complex Searches

More complex searches save time.
Usually use "" around phrases like "music industry"
Use () around search elements that rely or 'act on' on one another - these are called NESTED


Complex searches cont.

"music industry" OR musicians OR songwriters   ⇒    If you want ANY of the 3 terms - don't care which one(s).
You've saved yourself from doing three separate searches

"music industry" OR  musicians OR songwriters
Internet OR web

Example: ("music industry" OR musicians OR songwriters) AND (internet OR web)

   Yellow is the result. Look at overlap.This would be the same. Results over and over

You see articles once not 5-10 times

("music industry" OR musicians OR songwriters) AND (internet OR web)
This is equivalent of:
"music industry" and internet
"music industry" and web
Musicians and internet
Musicians and web
Songwriters and internet
Songwriters and web
Now multiply it by 6-10 databases






Truncator is usually a symbol * or ? or

It will save you TIME
Music* stands for: Music, Musicians, Musical, Musically, etc.
Any word that starts with music!!
(Careful not to use it on all worlds - cat* would give you HUNDREDS or words - category, caterpillar, catch, etc.)



In the middle of words you MAY be allowed to use a symbol to stand for a letter or letters - check each database
Colo*r could stand for color or colour
​wom*n could stand for women or woman

Save Time and Effort

  • Learn how to use: Boolean search terms to create complex searches (AND, OR, NOT)
  • Truncation to save time (search music* or music or musical or musician or...) 
  • Wildcards to save time (wom*n or woman at same time)

Start using these until you are comfortable it takes practice!!

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