Answered By: Brandon Kamin
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2022     Views: 435

Boolean searching uses the terms AND, OR, NOT to effectively limit or expand your search results. Using these terms effectively will greatly aid you in narrowing in on research related to your topic. For example, if you are searching for studies on substance abuse among people with anxiety, you could type “Anxiety,” AND “Substance Abuse.” This tells the search you are looking for sources that include both of these terms within them, effectively narrowing your search.

If you desire to expand your search, you could add similar terms such as “Substance Abuse,” OR “Drug Abuse.” This allows for more results that may not match the exact topic you are researching, but still contain relevant information. While some databases require you to actually type in the words AND/OR, databases such as EBSCO already have the feature built into their search bars.

You can also utilize the word NOT if you would like to eliminate a specific term from your results. We recommend you use this sparingly though as it could potentially eliminate useful sources, but it may be helpful in times where you are getting too many results on a subject that is irrelevant to you. For example, if you were getting excessive results regarding drug abuse with college students and that was not the area you wanted to focus on, you could try “Drug Abuse,” NOT “College.”

You can effectively combine Boolean methods as well in different ways such as trying a search similar to this:



“Substance Abuse” OR “Drug Abuse,”

NOT “College.”

Effectively using these methods can save a lot of time during your research and help you find the best source available.

For an example of finding keywords and using Boolean searching, check out this video here:

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