A new record uploads to CABI databases every 60 seconds, so if you’re trying to learn how cats communicate by searching ‘meow’, it’s unlikely that you’ll find the niche record you need to revolutionize your research. But with Boolean searching, you tell databases exactly what you’re looking for, so that within seconds you’re sat reading about how shelter cats that slow blink at visitors are more likely to be adopted.
In this quick blog, we explain the basics of Boolean searching so you can go from searching with your fingers crossed to finding the records you need at speed.
Boolean may sound complicated, but it’s actually really basic. All it does is allow you to layer your search terms, cutting out irrelevant research from your search results. The different layering options are called Boolean Operators and there are 3 to pick from: AND, OR and NOT.
The AND Operator
The AND Operator allows you to narrow your search by only showing records that feature both of your terms, such as records featuring Cats AND Communication. Gone are all the unrelated articles about Cats the musical and government comms strategies – with the AND operator, your search results only show records about cats communicating.
The OR Operator
Instead of searching for cats, then doing another search for kittens, the OR operator allows you to combine those results into one mega search, catching cat articles, kitten articles plus articles about cats and kittens in one swoop.
This is a great tool to catch hidden gems – authors often use synonyms or related terms in their articles, which, without adding extra layers using the OR operator, would cause you to miss their work. The more specialized your search, the more important it is to add OR operator layers.
The NOT Operator
The NOT operator allows you to exclude terms you don’t want in your search results. For example, say we want to research the more subtle forms of cat communication, such as blinking, breathing or body language. Excluding Meow whips out all the articles about meow patterns and the relationships between mother and kitten calls, reducing the results down to the niche research you need.
At CABI, as our databases have quite so many records, we’ve expanded our Boolean Searching to include bonus fields, and to allow you to layer operators to help you narrow down your results even further.
Rather than just simple search terms, on our platforms you can also use Boolean Operators on fields including the Author’s name, their affiliation, various organism descriptors, geographic locations, the publisher, language, ISBN number and more. On top of that, you can also filter by date published, document type and date added to the database, making a powerful search that looks like this:
Instead of pulling up hundreds of unrelated articles to trawl through, this search pulls up the exact results we want, such as: Slow blink eye closure in shelter cats is related to quicker adoption, by authors Humphrey, T. ; Stringer, F. ; Proops, L. and McComb, K, published in 2020.
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