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Developing and Combining Keywords: Combining Keywords

Combining Keywords with Boolean Operators

When searching databases, you can cannect your keywords with AND, OR, or NOT, also known as Boolean operators.

Use AND for combining two separate concepts (all results will contain both keywords).

  • gender and television

  • depression and social media

Use OR for combining related keywords or concepts (results will contain either keyword). There's always more than one way to say something.

  • teenagers or adolescents

  • cats or felines

Use NOT to exclude specific words from your search results. Use NOT when your search is pulling up irrelevant results. For example:

  • virus not computer

  • Manchester not united

Many databases have a dropdown menu with AND, OR and NOT on the advanced search page. 

In the example above, the three keywords are connected with AND, bring up 153 search results.

The second example shows how you can broaden your results by incorporating alternate keywords/synonyms with OR. In the example above, incorporating alternate keywords using OR increased the search results from 153 to 350.

Boolean Operators

Quick Tips & Shortcuts for Database Searching

Search Strategies and Boolean Operators