Search statements

tekijä: Tiia Marjaana Puputti Viimeisin muutos maanantai 19. joulukuuta 2016, 12.06

Sometimes, depending on the topic, you may get good search results using just one search term. Often, however, such a search gives you far too many results, and it is a lot of work to identify the relevant ones. Therefore, it is often best to use several search terms and combine them into meaningful entities, also known as search statements.

Video Search strategies and combining search terms (2 min 15 secs) shows you how to combine your search terms into search sentences. You will also learn about different search strategies.

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The Boolean operators AND, OR , NOT are used to combine two or more search terms into search statements. 

  • Most databases offer an advanced search option, where you will find the operators in a drop down menu. If you add the operators yourself, they are usually written in CAPITALS.  
  • If you don't use any operator to combine search terms, the database uses operator AND. 

Below you can see how the number of hits (dots) differs when you combine search term A and search term B with OR, AND , NOT.

 You can also use many Boolean operators in the same search statement. 

Example: agency OR subjectivity NOT professional  

Searching with phrases

media literacy 
"media literacy" 

To get an exact match for a phrase, put the search term in quotation marks, for example media literacy”. In many databases, you can select from a drop-down menu the Phrase search option. In these case you need not to use the quotes.



When doing searches in library databases, you should also remember to truncate (i.e. cut)  your search terms. This is important especially in free-text or keyword searches, sometimes also with thesaurus terms. The truncation mark is usually *, but may differ between databases.

Truncation broadens your search to include various word endings, spellings and grammatical forms of the word. The search term televis* covers the words television, televisions, televise, televising etc.If you don't truncate the search term, you will only receive sources with the exact form of the word. 

An example of a search statement for sports in TV:
televis* OR TV
sport* OR athlet*



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