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ENG101: College Writing (Food) (Benson)

Boolean Searching

What the heck is Boolean searching? Watch this brief tutorial from the University of South Florida Polytechnic Library to find out! Sharpening your skills in using Boolean operators when searching databases will retrieve more useful results.

Search Strategy: Build Keywords

Keyword searching uses the words AND, OR, and NOT as connectors between keyword terms to tell a database or catalog how to search according to a system of Boolean logic.

 1.     Turn your research question or statement into keywords:

    What alternatives to factory farming can ensure more humane treatment of animals for food?

"factory farming"            "animals"         “humane treatment”

*"Quotes" are used to indicate a phrase is being searched for.  Put quotes around two-or-more word phrases.

2.    Make a list of synonyms for complex terms or concepts:

        "Factory Farming"                                 “Humane treatment”           

Industrial agriculture

Animal rights

Industrial livestock production

Animal welfare

Intensive animal farming



 3.    Use Boolean connectors to turn these keywords into a search statement:

 "factory farming" and "humane treatment"

In the above statement, your results will show only articles that contain both words.

 "factory farming" or "industrial agriculture"

In this example, your results will show only articles in which at least one of the terms appears.

"factory farming” not  (poultry or chickens)

This final example will exclude articles in which the subject of poultry or chickens appears.

 4.    Use Truncation to pick up plurals or alternative endings.

 The truncation symbol in the majority of the databases is an asterisk (*), but some databases will recognize a question mark (?), hash mark (#), or exclamation point (!).


farm* =  farm, farms, farmer, and  farming