With the right search technique you can specify your information searches to find just the right information you need.
When searching for information in databases you need Boolean operators to combine search words with each other. In some databases you must type the operators manually and in some the operators are automatically. When using Google, the operators are automatically included, unvisible for the user. The operators may have different names in other search programs: logical operators, Boolean logic or search commands.
The most commonly used operators are;
Use parentheses ( ) in the search phrase to clarify the search when you use several different operators, for example. The search engine will look for the search phrase inside the parenthesis first, and then combine the search phrases with each other.
Watch the tutorial to see examples:
Use the operator AND when you want all your search words to appear in the search result. The operator AND limits the search result.
The operator OR is used when we want one of the search words to occur in the search result. OR expands the search result.
The operator NOT is used when we want to exclude a word from the search result. You have to be careful when using this operator, since it may exclude useful information by mistake. The operator NOT limits the search
With a phrase search the search engine will look for the search words in the exact same order as you have typed them in the search field. Phrase search can be used in both databases and in search engines when your search word consist of two or more words. Phrase search can also be used in Google. Use quotation marks " " around your search words to get a result answering to the exact phrase.
You can leave out part of a search word, which is called truncating. If you do not truncate search words, part of the result may be omitted because the search engine looks for words in exactly the form they are entered into the search engine. This is an important point if you are looking for information in Finnish (because of different word endings). In English, words are often spelled differently in British and American English (e.g. behavior vs. behaviour).
Truncation is marked with a truncation character. The most common one is * (but also ?, # or $ are sometimes used). It is also often possible to exchange one or more characters in the middle of a word because of different spelling variations. As different databases use different signs, always check what sign a certain database is using. Truncation is done automatically in Google searches. Arcada Finna uses * as truncation character.
Always consider carefully where to truncate a search word. If you cut it too short, it may turn up results that you are not interested in (emu*, for example, could turn up ’emu’, ’emulate’, ’emulsifier’, ’emulsify’, ’emulsion’ etc).
Sometimes, an information search may give you a very large number of results, while at other times, you find no results at all. In addition, a search will often give you unexpected results that do not give you any answers to your information need.
Evaluate the success of your information retrieval by considering the following points: