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Information Literacy and the Social Work Researcher

The Logic of Searching

Tutorial courtesy of the University of Southern California Libraries

Using Boolean Operators when searching will give you better, and more accurate, results.  


  1.  AND- Retrieves articles that contain all of the search terms and narrows down the results. 
  2. OR- Retrieves articles with any of the terms and broadens the search.  
  3. NOT- Eliminates articles containing the second term which narrows the search. 
  4. Using Quotations or brackets will search for a phrase as a whole. 
  5. Using Boolean logic and keywords are essential when searching library databases.  If you only search Google, you won’t get very far.  Google uses natural language, which is great when you want to find certain everyday things on the open web, but natural language doesn’t work in databases.  

Boolean Basics

Basic Search Plan Activity

Lit Review Processs

Courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth Libraries