Creating Effective Database Searches Using Boolean Operators: OR

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Welcome to this Information and Library services tutorial about using the Boolean Operator OR, which helps to expand search results in library databases. This tutorial will take about 2 minutes to review. 

When used between two search terms, OR expands your search because it tells the database to search for either term. OR is used to combine words that are synonyms or illustrate similar concepts. 

For the purpose of this tutorial, the research database PsycARTICLES will be used, although the same concepts hold true for any database that is searched. 

For example, the search topic is about violence in adolescents. A simple search on this topic will look like this. 

Violence is typed in the first search box.  

Adolescents is typed in the second search box.  

Click the search button. 

The database indicates that 118 results were retrieved with this search. 

The search, however, can be expanded by using a synonym for violence such as abuse. The terms are connected using the Boolean Operator “OR.” 

In the first box, type the words violence OR abuse.  

In the second box, type adolescents. Note that the database interface still allows use of the search operator AND. Click the search button. 

Using OR, the search has been expanded to 562 articles—as opposed to the 118 articles retrieved in the previous search.  

Some of these articles will contain the term violence, some will contain abuse, and some will contain both of these terms. They will all, however, contain the term adolescents because AND was used between the terms. 

Using the Boolean operator OR expands your searches in library databases. 

To learn more about Boolean Operators as well as other searching tips and techniques, please visit our library Web site. You can contact a UMUC librarian 24/7 for help any of your research needs. Thank you for viewing this tutorial.