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Searching: Using AND, OR, & NOT

Searching: Using Symbols & Quotations

Narrowing Your Search

Searching UML with Google Scholar

Searching: Using AND, OR, & NOT

This tutorial will show you the basics of using AND, OR, and NOT statements—called Boolean operators—while searching to help find what you’re looking for. 

Using the database PsycINFO to demonstrate, but keep in mind that you can use these techniques in virtually any of our scholarly journal databases. You may encounter slight differences in how the rules are applied, but the fundamental basics are the same. 

To begin, let’s navigate to PsycINFO by starting from the UM libraries homepage. Click on Databases A-Z. In the right-hand search box, type in “PsycINFO”…click on the first result. You will be directed to the PsycINFO homepage. If you’re off campus, you will be asked to login with your UM credentials.

Let’s say you are looking for literature related to the self-esteem of adolescents. We can use an AND statement to connect the main ideas of our search – self esteem and adolescents - so that the database will only return articles that contain these two terms. 

To do this, simply type in “self-esteem AND adolescents” into the search box. Note that we’ve put the word “and” in capitals. The rules for using capitals may change depending on what database you’re using, but it is good practice to use capitals to keep things organized. 

AND statements will tighten your search results, making the pool of articles smaller.  In this case, we have about 8400 results. Were we to use only “self-esteem” or “adolescents” we would likely get hundreds of thousands of results, so this is a good start. 

While AND narrows our search, we can use another operator – OR – to widen it.

Let’s say we wanted to introduce another term into our search, “self-concept.” This term has a slightly more specific meaning, but it is still related. By typing in “self-concept OR self-esteem”, we’re going to get all articles that mention these two terms – over 88, 000. This is an extremely broad search, and not very helpful right now, but we’ll return to this operator in a moment. 

The final operator – NOT– can be used to eliminate terms that we do not want to turn up in our search results.

Using the same example, we can enter something like “self-concept NOT self-esteem”, to get all of the articles that mention self-concept without mentioning self-esteem. Take note that this is a narrower search than only entering “self-concept”, because it deliberately excludes any mention of “self-esteem.”

The three operators can be helpful on their own, but are most effective when used together. You can combine AND, OR and NOT to build very specific searches. 

So let’s say that we wanted to look at something more specific – relationships between substance abuse and the self-concept of young adults.

We’ll begin by entering the first piece: “(self-concept NOT self-esteem)” in parentheses. The parentheses are necessary to keep the concepts we’re trying to connect separate from one another. This process is called nesting – it’s similar to a math formula.

Now let’s add the next component, which is the population we’re looking at – young adults. By adding "AND (adolescents)", in parentheses. We’ve constructed a search that will find all of the articles that discuss the self-concept of adolescents without mentioning self-esteem.

There is still one component left to add, however. At the end, we’ll place a final AND statement, “AND (substance abuse OR drug abuse),” in parentheses, to provide additional context for our search.
We get 176 results. Plenty of options, but not overwhelming.

This was a very simple example, and there are lots of other techniques you can use to build complex searches. Check out part two of this tutorial, Searching: Using Symbols & Quotations, or make an appointment with a librarian to learn more.

Searching: Using Symbols & Quotations

This tutorial will show you how to use wildcard symbols and quotation marks to improve your search results. For this tutorial, we will be using UML’s One Stop Search, but keep in mind you can use these techniques in any database you come across.

First, we’ll deal with wildcards. A wildcard is a special character used in a database to account for prefixes, suffixes, or alternative spellings.

For example, the word “behaviour” has both British and American spellings, each equally represented in academic literature. We may also want to capture other variations, such as “behavioral” or “behaviors.” We can use a wildcard to make sure we capture all of these arrangements at once.

To use a wildcard, substitute the part of the word that differs with the wildcard – in this case, the wild card is an asterisk.

In our example, we’ve typed “behavi*” and replaced the end of the word with an asterisk.
This will tell the database to search for everything that begins with “behavi” regardless of what comes after the asterisk. You can place the wildcard in any part of the word you’re searching. The result here is that we get over five-million hits that include all variant spellings of the word.  

Note that Google and most online databases will use an asterisk, but you may find that some will use another character. 

Now, let’s say you want to search for materials on Behavior Modification, which is a concept in psychology. A simple search of the two words will result in over 73-thousand hits, because the system will show you result for both the word “behavior” and “modification” regardless of how the words are linked. We can use quotation marks to get around this issue. If we place our search in quotation marks instead, "Behavior Modification", the system will only give us results that contain this exact phrase.

As you can see, we have cut the number of results by two-thirds, and these results are all more likely to be relevant to our search. 

You can use these searching techniques in combination with others to make your searches more efficient. Check out part one of this video, or make an appointment with a librarian to learn more. 

Narrowing Your Search

The first step in this process is navigating to the UManitoba Libraries website, at

Type in your search terms and click search.

I performed a simple search for “UFO” as an example. 

You will notice this area to the left of the search results page, titled “Refine my Results.”

Under this section is where you will narrow your results.

"Content Type" refers to the type of resource you’re looking for, and filters the results by any one of the following options: Newspaper articles, Articles, reviews, books, conference proceedings, dissertations, audio-visual material, etc.

You can also use a "Date Range." The date refers to when the item was published.

You can either change the date range using the sliding bar, manually type in a date range in the two empty boxes, or choose a date range provided. Provided date ranges also list how many resources we have in that date range.

You can limit by the "publication language." Most resources we have will be in English, but we do have access to materials written in other languages.

Lastly, directly above the “Refine my Results” area is the “Show Only” option.

Using this feature you can limit the results to only:

Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals


Full Text articles available online


Physical books available in the library

This feature can be very useful if you need peer reviewed articles for a class.

Narrowing your results using the filters on the left is one of the easiest and quickest ways to obtain more relevant search results.

Searching UML with Google Scholar

In this tutorial, we will cover the following topics:

  1. What is Google Scholar?
  2. What does Google Scholar include?
  3. When to use Google Scholar effectively
  4. How to access UManitoba resources through Google Scholar

1. What is Google Scholar?

Google scholar is a search engine that provides a way to easily research broad academic topics.

2. What does Google Scholar include?

Google Scholar includes peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports.

Google Scholar resources are mainly science and technology related.

Citation information is also provided, allowing you to easily cite your sources.

Google Scholar includes papers from a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, and universities.

3. When to use Google Scholar

To use Google Scholar effectively, use it for an initial search for scholarly literature, when a specific article from a specific journal is needed, or to quickly find relevant results on a topic of research.

4. How to access UManitoba resources through Google Scholar

The best way to access UManitoba Libraries articles through Google Scholar is to go to the libraries homepage Once you click on the link, the Google Scholar page will appear and when you perform a search, the results will be linked to UManitoba Libraries. I performed a basic search for “Cell Biology” to illustrate how the results page looks. You can see that along with some results, the Get it at UML link appears. If you click on that link it will take you to the One-Stop Search results page.

Please note: you will need to have selected "University of Manitoba - Check Library Access" within your Google Scholar settings to view links to UM Libraries material. See "Settings with Google Scholar" for more information.