We’ve covered WHAT do Sweet Briar students search. Now we’ll look at HOW Sweet Briar students search.
SBC Students search using Boolean logic.
This Boolean AND search brings back only articles that contain the word poverty and the word crime somewhere in them. As you can see, we got over 38 million results with this search! That is too many to look at. In order to focus this search and bring back fewer more specific results, we will add another search term to this string.
We’ll add the search term “nutrition” to this string. Do you think the number circled in red will go up or down, now that we have three search terms?
If you guessed that the number would go down, you were right! We now have only four million or so results to choose from. What can we do to narrow this search further?
That’s right! We can add another search term. In this case we are adding the word Florida.
As you can see, we are down to 628,000 search results. Let’s add one more search term. We’ll add the name of a small county in the north of Florida, Wakulla.
Now we are down to 288 search results, by using the Boolean AND operator! Are there any questions about the AND operator?
Notice that in this eBay search we looked for “cell phone.” We got back 38,408 results. We can’t look at that many results, and some of these results are not for the phone itself, but for other things like “phone case,” “data cable,” battery, holder, parts and faceplates. How do we get rid of all those items that we do not want and find search results for a simple cell phone?
We perform a Boolean NOT search by placing a minus sign in front of each of the items we do not want to see in our search results. In this case, we told the computer “Please find a cell phone, but not a battery, not a faceplate, not parts, not a case and not an antenna.” Our results went down from about 38,000 down to around 23,000 items.
If you left a space between the minus sign and the next word, what kind of search would that be? It would be an AND search. Are there any questions about the NOT operator?
I’m searching here on E.A. Poe, Edgar Allen (with an E) Poe and Edgar Allan (with an A) Poe. Notice that the O, R is capitalized in this search. If you do not capitalize the OR, the computer will think you are searching for the word “or,” instead of doing a Boolean OR search.
In this results screen, you can see that this Boolean OR search brought back over 9 million results. Now you understand why we don’t use the OR operator very often! Are there any questions about the Boolean OR operator?
This sequence tells the computer, “I want all the articles in this database that include both of these words somewhere in them.”
The gray area on the right indicates the items that include both the word “poverty” and the word “crime.”
The AND operator works like a funnel-shaped filter
The more search terms you use (with spaces in between them) the fewer and fewer results will come back from your search. These fewer results will be specifically focused on your particular area of research.
Your search results will include every article with the word “college,” every article with the word “university,” and every article with the word “campus.” It doesn’t matter if they are all in the same article or not.