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Tutorial: Doing Research on the Internet - Pt. 8

Boolean Operators / Adjacency Operators

Use Boolean operators and adjacency operators to search with greater precision by including or excluding search terms.

  • OR specifies that either one or the other of the search terms should be included. It is good to use for synonyms, and usually increases search results.
    • Example: "cancer OR neoplasms" retrieves pages that contain either of these terms.
  • AND specifics that both terms must be included. It usually narrows your search results.
    • Example: "cancer AND treatment" retrieves documents that contain both terms.
  • NOT excludes terms.
    • Example: "cancer AND NOT astrology" will retrieve articles about cancer but exclude those about the astrological sign.
  • NEAR specifies that terms be close to each other. The number of words allowed between the terms varies in different engines.
    • Example: "cancer NEAR lung" would find "lung cancer" or "cancer of the lung"

These Boolean operators and adjacency operators can be combined:

    • Example: "(cancer OR neoplasm) NEAR lung"

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