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Boolean Operators: Nesting, Truncation & Wildcards

This guide will show you how to use boolean operators to hone in on relevant sources.

Nesting

How to Nest Operators

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. 

Examples

  • Feminism AND (politics OR "public policy" OR government)
  • ("Mental health" OR anxiety OR depression NOT suicide) AND ("college students" OR undergraduates OR university students) AND alcohol

Truncation

What is Truncation?

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. 

Examples 

  • Music*: Musical, musician, musicians, musicality 
  • Politic*: Politics; political, politically

Wildcard

What are Wildcards?

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 

Examples

  • Wom?n
  • gr?y

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Subjects: Research Tips