Tip for: 11.06.17

It’s time to do history research on World War II. You want to see what’s available in the library regarding Japanese and German history. So you go to Researcher or Search, and change from the simple to the Advanced search, and you use the Boolean operators to enter ‘history’ AND ‘Germany’ OR ‘Japan’.

But wait—which of the following are you really searching for? 
[History, and Germany/Japan] 
or 
[History+germany, or Japan] 

Have you just searched for anything to do with [history of Germany] or [history of Japan], or anything to do with [Germany History] and [whatever else about Japan]? One is clearly more helpful than the other.

So how does Boolean logic in Alexandria work?

Advanced Search

Boolean operators use Parenthetical searching—in other words, they go top down, solving from left to right.

History
AND 
Germany 
OR 
Japan 

Is going to yield the following logic: history+germany, or Japan

Oops. So how can you do it right? You’ll need to enter:

Germany 
OR 
Japan 
AND 
history 

Which yields: Germany/Japan, & History


Going further, we need to look at what it does when you have that 4th search term in there. Let’s say you want history of Germany, history of Japan, and history of Italy.

You will want to set up the search this way:

Germany 
OR 
Japan 
OR 
Italy 
AND 
history 


Mixing and matching the operators? For example, for [germany war history] or [japan war history], you would do this: 
Germany 
OR 
Japan 
AND 
war 
AND 
history 

Boolean Search

Teach your students how to Boolean search!

See also this informative article on Boolean Operators, written by an in-house librarian.

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