Skip to main content

Complementary & Alternative Medicine: Boolean Searching

Guide to locating resources for complementary and alternative therapies.

Boolean: handwashing and cross infection

Boolean logic uses the operators AND, OR, and NOT to connect search terms when using catalogs, databases, or web searching. 

  • A simple search on: handwashing retrieves article citations containing that term.
  • A simple search on: handwashing AND cross infection retrieves citations containing BOTH terms.

 

BOOLEAN
OPERATOR    
SEARCH STATEMENT RETRIEVES  

AND

handwashing

AND

cross infection

Retrieves citations with BOTH terms present


OR

cross infection
OR

nosocomial infection
OR
hospital infection


Retrieves citations with EITHER/ANY of the terms present


(OR is used to string synonyms together; remember, OR retrieves MORE!)


AND, OR 

handwashing

AND

(cross infection
OR
nosocomial infection

OR

hospital infection)

Search sets may be combined. This search locates citations with the word handwashing AND (ANY one of the terms combined with OR)

AND, OR

handwashing

AND

(cross infection
OR
nosocomial infection

OR

hospital infection)

AND

Publication type: randomized controlled trial

Retrieves citations with the word handwashing AND (ANY one of the terms combined with OR) AND limited to articles with the Publication type: randomized controlled trial. This is one example of using database Limits.

NOT

handwashing

NOT

masks

Retrieves citations with the term handwashing, but omits records with the term masks

(Caution: the NOT operator should be used sparingly and carefully as it may omit citations relevant to a search.  

For example, an article about handwashing that includes the word masks might be relevant to a search on handwashing.)


 

Boolean: Driving and Mobile Phone

Boolean logic uses the operators AND, OR, and NOT to connect search terms when using catalogs, databases, or web searching. 

  • A simple search on: driving retrieves article citations containing that term.
  • A simple search on: driving AND mobile phone retrieves citations containing BOTH terms.
  • A search combining terms with AND and synonyms with OR is shown below, to answer the research question:

    Is there evidence that the use of cell phones while driving increases the incidence of accidents?.

 

BOOLEAN
OPERATOR    
SEARCH STATEMENT RETRIEVES  

AND

driving

AND

mobile phone

AND narrows your search results to citations with BOTH terms present. 


OR

mobile phone
OR

cell phone
OR
text messaging


OR broadens your results to include citations with EITHER/ANY of the terms present.

OR is used to string synonyms together.

Remember, OR retrieves MORE!


AND, OR 

driving

AND

(mobile phone
OR

cell phone
OR
text messaging
)

AND

accidents

Search sets may be combined.

This search locates citations with the word driving AND (ANY one of the terms combined with OR).

The area where all 3 circles overlap represents search results with all criteria.


NOT

driving

NOT

cycling

Retrieves citations with the term driving, but omits records with the term cycling

(Caution: the NOT operator should be used sparingly and carefully as it may omit citations relevant to a search.  For example, an article about cycling might also be relevant to driving.)