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Lund University

International Master's Programmes (Social Sciences): Search strategies

Development Studies, Global Studies, Social Studies of Gender, Middle Eastern Studies

Search & Evaluate

Social Sciences Faculty Library

Combine search terms - Boolean logic

It´s easy and logic to combine search terms using the words AND, OR and NOT, also called boolean logic or boolean operators.

In databases and search engines you can often combine these by choice, in drop-down menues, but sometimes they can be pre-defined.

Boolean logic works like this:

Search techniques

Truncation

Truncation means that you replace the end of a word with a sign, usually the * sign, alllowing you to search everything starting with a certain stemming.

Example: 

If you write socio* you get sociology, sociological, sociopath etc.

Phrase search

You use phrase search when you want specific words to appear in a specific order. Most databases mark phrases with quotation marks "" before and after the phrase.

Examples: 

"climate change" gives hits for this phrase, but not for the words in other contexts like changes in the climate generally.

"Karl Marx" gives hits for this specific name in this specific order, but not for the Marx brothers or other persons named Karl.

Field search

Databases are constructed by entering data in different fields. There are author, title, year and abstract fields (and many more). You can use these fields for limiting your search.

Example: 

When searching for Michel Foucault you can choose the author field for finding articles by Foucault himself, the abstract field for finding articles mentioning him or the title field for finding articles where he is a prominent figure.