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Communication Studies

Using AND/OR/NOT in searches (AKA Boolean)

The words AND/OR/NOT (sometimes called Boolean) can be used to group sets of search terms together in a meaningful way; which will improve the quality of your search results because you are customizing the results to suit your specific needs/topic.


Use AND to reduce the number of items found by letting the database "know" that these two concepts (safety and water) must be together.  For example: this search on water AND safety in ArticlesPlus finds fewer items than either water or safety alone. Plus, the true context of your topic is not represented.
Use AND between two concepts to glue the ideas together, thus minimizing your results.


Use OR to combine synonymous or alternate terms and increase the number of results. For example: the search water AND safety AND (Ohio OR West Virginia) in ArticlesPlus finds less items than before, but more than searching either water AND safety AND Ohio or water AND safety AND West Virginia. 
using OR to expand your search to use synonyms- ohio OR west virginia


Use NOT to exclude a specific concept from your results. For example: this search on water AND safety AND (Ohio OR West Virginia) NOT lead in ArticlesPlus finds less items because it is excluding any results with the word "lead". In other words, I want materials about water safety in two states that are not about lead.
NOT eliminates a concept from your results

Search Limiters or Filters

Search filters can be found in ArticlesPlus, other library databases, and even Google Scholar and are (usually) found on the left-hand side of the results page. These help to limit your results in a way you can control.

Search limiters often found:

  • Date Range/Publication Date (Limit your results to a specific date range that is more relevant to the time of your topic)
  • Material Type (limit to scholarly articles,news papers, etc. only- shown below)
  • Subject (hone in to one specific subject scope that best represents your topic)

ArticlesPlus search limiters on the left to limit date, material type etc.

"Quotation marks" and *

Have a specific phrase, treatment, test, etc. and the words have to stay together as they are in order to maintain the definition? Example: CPR stands for "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation". Put quotation marks around the phrase "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation" so the databases does not search for the words Cardiopulmonary and Resuscitation individually in attempt to get you more results.

An ArticlesPlus search for "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation" gets less results than Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Want to get more results easily? Add the asterisk * to the end of a word that can have multiple endings that would be relevant to your search. For example: teen*. This will search for teenage, teenager, teen, teens and any other possible endings.

An ArticlesPlus search for teen gets less results than teen*

Subjects: Communication