Boolean Searching: “Finding Results” AND Relevant

boolean text within a search field

Many of the issues faced by research professionals is not just finding information, but finding the correct information to meet the research request – no more, no less. Boolean searching can give the researcher the levers to control the intricacies of the search to yield exactly what is wanted.

Using Manzama Boolean searching is a great alternative to our thousands of conceptual searches, that may be too broad or not entirely hitting the mark. Boolean operators put the power in the hands of the research professional, from “exact phrase match” OR “searching proximity”~15 OR content_exact_case: ”Finding cAse SENsiTIVE wordS”, can help the research fine tune the search to be right on target.

Finding the right kind of information doesn’t always come on the first try, so modifying the original search is often an iterative process. Things to try are to add AND statements to contextualize your search with another word or phrase. Other things to try are exclusions from your original statement by appending AND NOT at the end of your core search to exclude words or phrases. Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget the parentheses (around the core search) AND NOT (the exclusions). Any combination of ORs or ANDs can be included within each set of parentheses, ensuring the core search is grouped in its entirety and the exclusions are grouped together, as well.

Now that the search is written, what happens when the search is not producing expected results? It is time to review the search syntax – are there the correct number of “quotations”, in the “correct placement? Or was a parenthesis) missed, causing the incorrect words to be grouped together? Common errors with searches are typically punctuation or spelling mistakes. These key steps and Boolean operators should provide enough information to develop a (“focused search” OR “target terms”) AND NOT (“unwanted results”).

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