2. Let's say you were researching methods for encouraging student engagement in high school students in rural communities, your keywords would be: rural communities, student engagement and high school.
Boolean operators are terms you can use to narrow or broaden your search in a database, library catalog or Google Scholar. The three basic operators are: AND, OR, and NOT.
Use the operator "AND" in a search to:
Search String: Anxiety AND "college students" AND alcohol
The search above tells the database that you want each article in your results to mention ALL the search terms. This narrows your results because all the terms must be present instead of any articles about anxiety, or college students, or alcohol.
Search String: Racism AND elections AND "United States"
The venn diagram below demonstrates that AND is the intersection of all your search terms - thus it narrows your search.
Use the operator OR to:
Search String: College students OR university students OR undergraduates OR graduate students
The example above will broaden your search because it will pull up articles with ANY of those terms present.
Search String: Feminism OR Gender inequality OR women's rights
Use the operator NOT to:
Search String: Participation AND Democracy NOT "United States"
This tells the database to pull up results about participation and democracy but to exclude any articles that are about participation and democracy specifically in the United States.
Databases usually default to AND as the primary operator and connect concepts tied together with AND first. You can use parentheses ( ) to indicate to the database how you want your terms to be connected.
Truncation is useful when you have search terms that are "root" terms. For example: teen, teens, teenager. By adding an asterisk * to the end of the root term you can search for all the variations in one search.
Wildcard searching is useful when you have multiple spellings for a word. For example: color vs. colour. You could use the wildcard ? to ensure your results include both variations of the spelling: col?r