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Local Issues: General Research Guide: Logical Operators

Making your research relevant by focusing topics close to home.

Search Strategies: How to Formulate Your Search

After defining your topic, break your research question into keywords (2 or 3 of the most important words about your topic).

Use Boolean operators to tell the database whether you want to find all the words, any of the words, or if you want to exclude a word from your results. Boolean operators are specific words that connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results.

Boolean operators include AND, OR, and NOT.

  AND helps you narrow your search so that all the words you list must be included in each of the search results. Choose your best keywords, then link them together with AND.  This makes your result list smaller and more specific. Examples: school AND crime,  dyslexia AND treatment

OR broadens a search to include any single one of your terms in the search results. OR is best used for synonyms or similar words. Using OR will increase the number of results. Use OR between keywords that are synonyms or have similar meanings. Examples: women OR females,  baby OR infant

NOT eliminates unwanted search terms by excluding words from your search results. Using NOT will decrease the number of results. The best use of NOT is when you are searching for a keyword that may have multiple meanings or when a word can be used in different contexts.
Examples:  bat NOT baseball,  orange NOT color.