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INTRODUCTION TO BASIC BOOLEAN SEARCH AND TRUNCATION METHODS. Paul Tremblay, Reference Librarian Office: (718) 246-6382 Email: Paul.tremblay@liu.edu Reference Desk: (718) 780-4513.

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introduction to basic boolean search and truncation methods
INTRODUCTION TO BASIC BOOLEAN SEARCH AND TRUNCATION METHODS
  • Paul Tremblay, Reference Librarian
    • Office: (718) 246-6382
    • Email: Paul.tremblay@liu.edu
    • Reference Desk: (718) 780-4513
slide2

For this tutorial I will use the “Advanced Search” module of Cambridge Scientific Abstract (CSA); CSA is a database, or aggregator of already published records, including journal articles.You will find similar modules in other databases

key concepts
Key concepts
  • Keywords
  • Boolean Search
  • Operators & Truncations
  • Citations & Abstract
  • Full-Text
the quick guide
The quick guide…
  • Keywords: words identifying the concepts of your research
  • Boolean Operators: words combining the keywords
  • Truncations: a truncation mark is a symbol added to the stem of a word in order to search all forms of the word
  • Citations: the basic information of a record (Author, title of the article, title of the periodical, date, page…)
  • Abstract: a summary of the article (anything from 10 words to a few hundreds)
slide5

KEYWORDS

  • Keywords are words or concepts extracted from your topic (subject of research)
  • They are unique and related to the field being investigated.
  • Do not forget that you are dealing with a computer, not a human being! Do not write a full sentence, just words (including synonyms) unique to your topic.
slide6

BOOLEAN OPERATORS

  • A Boolean Search is a computerized search using “operators”
  • They are words by which search terms (keywords) are combined
  • The operators may be used to expand or narrow a search
  • Most widely used are
    • OR
    • AND
    • NOT
  • (By default, Google will “and” your terms)
slide7

TRUNCATION

  • The truncation mark is usually an “*”, an asterisk.
  • It tells the software that you wish to obtain ALL possible terminations.
  • “Teen*” will retrieve “teen”, “teens”, “teenager”… It is compatible with all computerized search (online or CD). Google and other search engines recognize it
the concepts of a search
The Concepts of a Search
  • KEYWORDS…
  • Let’s try a topic, let’s squeeze words out of a project
example
EXAMPLE:
  • TOPIC: The positive (or negative) effects of inclusion in children in high schools.
        • Strategy: identify the concepts, here called KEYWORDS:
          • inclusion
          • children
          • High school
          • effects?
slide10
AND

child* AND juvenile

All articles or records with BOTH terms in them (narrows the search)

OR

Child* OR juvenile

All articles with EITHER or BOTH terms (broadens the search)

Now that we identified our “concepts” or “keywords”, let’s combine them with Operators. But what do Operators do? For instance, what is the difference between using “AND” and “OR”?

slide11

However, (Child* OR juvenile) should yield ALL records: with Child alone, with Juvenile alone, and the records with both terms.

If I search for (Child* AND juvenile), the result should be all records with BOTH terms in them.

C

J

C

J

My results

My results

in a nutshell
In a nutshell…
  • You input the terms or concepts you absolutely want to search
  • You combine them with AND (for instance: abortion AND teen)
  • You use OR to combine alternative terminologies or analogous terms (Teen OR adolescent OR young adult)
when to use not
When to use NOT
  • You use NOT to exclude unwanted results
  • For example, you are researching for records about Martin Luther, the religious reformer.
  • However, chances are that you will end up with a lot of legitimate records about Martin Luther King. One of the strategies is to search for the following:
  • Martin AND Luther NOT King
enough about boolean stuff let s go back to our search here search
Enough about Boolean stuff!Let’s go back to our search hereSEARCH
  • inclusion AND high schools AND (child* OR juvenile)

The parenthesis strategy is called “nesting”. Usually a “guided” search will perform this for you automatically.

pop quiz before going any further why did we add an asterisk to child
POP QUIZ!Before going any further:Why did we add an asterisk to “child”?
  • Just testing your memory here…
  • Remember that the * asterisk is called a “truncation” mark. It tells the software that you wish to obtain ALL possible terminations.
  • In other words…
this is what child will search
This is what “Child*” will search
  • Child*

Child

Childish

Children

how did we formulate the search
How did we formulate the search?
  • We did use the AND and OR operators
  • A CSA “Advanced Search” interface, though, did the job for us
  • It displayed the ANDs and the ORs; all you have to do is include the search terms
  • Most databases’ “Advanced Search” option will allow you to do so. If not, you have to “nest” the terms
slide19

The ORs are aligned horizontally. The ANDs are on a different row. The most common mistakes include confusing the AND and OR. Do not input “Inclusion OR high school”, for instance.

what you will obtain hopefully are citations along with abstracts your search terms are bolded
What you will obtain, hopefully, are citations along with abstracts; your search terms are bolded.
read the abstract tells you more about an article than just reading the title
READ THE ABSTRACT!Tells you more about an article than just reading the title.
  • The abstract is a summary of the article (anything from 10 to 200 words).
  • The abstract will help you assess if the article is relevant to your search/topic.
  • In order to retrieve the full-text of the article (if not readily available), please refer to the appropriate tutorial available off our webpage or call your instructor
a few good tips about or
A few good tips about “OR”…
  • Do not forget: OR combines similar terms

So…

  • Use Alternative Terminology…
  • Option A, refer to a printed Thesaurus…
  • Option B, Use the online Thesaurus (not always available in all databases; in CSA, click on “Search Tools”)
slide25

For instance you are looking for English as Second Language. Type in “ESOL”, click on “hierarchy” (will provide you with “broader” and “narrower” terms)

slide26
The point of this exercise is for the database to provide you with a listing of alternative terminology
  • ESOL or ESL or English (Second Language)
  • Another example for a simple search using alternative terminology (or synonyms):
    • ELL or English Language Learner*
  • You may attempt
    • (ELL* or English Language Learner* or ESOL) and SAT
or works with acronyms as well you are searching for sat for instance
”OR” works with acronyms as well. You are searching for SAT, for instance?
  • Try the full phrase:
  • SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test or Scholastic Aptitude Test (one being the new version and the other the old version)
we hope this tutorial helped you
We hope this tutorial helped you
  • Should you have any questions, comments, complaints, etc., do not hesitate to call or email us at the library.
our contact numbers are on the library webpage
Our contact numbers are on the library webpage.

List of phone numbers

You may also email or chat with us!