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SPH511 Research Skills Guide: Boolean operators

Introduction

Boolean operators, also known as search operators or combining operators, are the operators that determine how your search terms are combined in a search. The two main operators are AND and OR.

The "AND" operator

Using the AND operator

Retrieving too many results can be a problem when searching databases.

If you add extra search terms, and combine them with AND, you will get only results that contain both or all of the terms.

This is a way of making your search more specific (narrower), and getting fewer results.

Example: podiatry AND education AND australia

The "OR" operator

Using the OR operator

Sometimes you might not get enough results.

If you add extra search terms, and combine them with OR, you will get results that contain one or other (or both) of your search terms.

This is a way of making your search less specific (broader), and getting more results.

Examples:

speech therapy OR speech pathology OR speech language pathology

physiotherapy OR physical therapy

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