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A Complete List Of Boolean Operators For Academic Researchers

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Boolean Operators for Researchers

Last Updated on January 9, 2022 by Aaron Thompson

Writing research papers is a hassle. But writing a well-structured, and readable research paper is beyond time-consuming. This happens most of the time when you search for literature related to the research questions. Sometimes your university professors will ask you to find hundreds of references. It can leave you confused, and tangled between which search terms, and databases are to be used. Academic researchers often face this problem of finding relevant literature. The solution to this problem is the use of ‘Boolean Operators.

The 3 Boolean operations titled after the mathematician George Boole are AND, OR, and NOT. Boolean operators serve as the foundation for scientific categories, and computer logic. They link your search terms to either restrict, or widen your selection of results. ‘AND’, ‘OR’, and ‘NOT’ are the three primary Boolean operators. Thus, Boolean operators help in narrowing down your search results. They help present only relevant results. Boolean operator is a basic idea in the aspect of data screening. And academic researchers use it as a foundation in many database networks. Using proper Boolean operator while writing a research paper may result in the structuring of a good research.

Why Are Boolean Operators Used?

  1. To narrow down a search, especially when your topic incorporates many search phrases.
  2. To link different items of data for locating the exact result you’re looking for.

Example: Mental Health Nurses AND COVID-19.

GPs OR Caregivers OR Health practitioners.

Mental health Nurses NOT Psychiatrists.

Boolean operators can help save time by concentrating queries more on the targeted results. It helps yield search queries that are more relevant to your search objectives as well. It does so while removing inadequate, or irrelevant results.

Every search engine or database utilises Boolean operators in a somewhat different manner. Some may need you to write the operator in capital letters, or with unique syntax. You can find the phrase with reference to the relevant database. You can also view it under Sources Of information, or the search engine’s help menus.

The following complete list of Boolean operators for academic researchers will guide you in this context. It will help you in narrowing down, or expanding your research.

Complete list of Boolean operators for academic researchers


AND searches return results for all search queries. For example, if you search on Anxiety AND Melancholy AND Sorrow. It will yield only results having all three search phrases. This method narrows down the aspect of search. The AND operator requires both words to be present in each result obtained. If one word appears in the text but the other does not, it excludes the entry from resultant list.


OR searches locate either of the phrases. If you search for Anxiety, melancholy, or sorrow, it will find all entries. But it will highlight only those entries including these search phrases. This function yields a significant number of results.


NOT excludes items containing the chosen word. Looking for information on Anxiety NOT Sorrow retrieves melancholy related results. But it will NOT return anything containing the term Sorrow.

NOT, or AND NOT depends on the database’s search query coding system. Suppose you search for the first term. Some entries match the keyword after you remove the operators from the outcomes. But you should use this method with caution, since the attempt to limit the query may be quite exclusive. And it might result in the omission of better records too.

Using Quotation Marks

When you use specific words in a Boolean Search, you may use quotation marks for gathering the phrases. When you search for “Covid-19,” you will only see the results that include that precise term.

Using Parentheses

Using the parentheses () to contain search tactics will personalise your findings. This is done so that the results van match your subject more. Search engines focus on keyword phrases contained in parenthesis. Next, they filter any phrases that are not contained.

For example: If you’re searching for (Anger or Stress) and Mental Health. The search results will include results containing both Anger and Mental Health. As well as Stress and Anger Mental Health. It will also yield search results having Stress and Mental Health. But it will not yield Anger or Stress if Mental Health is not mentioned.


Using the asterisk (*) sign is a wild card that instructs the database to look for several kinds of a term.

For instance, if you’re looking for Psychology without using truncation, you will get psychology, not psychologist. But when you add truncation to Psychology*, you will get psychology, as well as psychologist. So you need to take caution not to truncate the terms too soon.

If you abbreviate psychology*, you will also get psychological, psychologically, and psychologist. It will retrieve every result, be those relevant or not.

Right Way To Use Boolean Operators For Academic Researchers

You may use Boolean operators to look for author names, or genres of publications as well. To return case study articles, you will include the keyword “case study” to the search query. You can also include the phrase “techniques” for finding articles. This will give you results about the case study techniques. By including “AND” before the phrases, there’s a guarantee that you only get the item you’re looking for.

A peek at the “support” menu will provide you further pointers about how to look for entries. This is essential so that you can identify relevant articles though fast, and cheap means. Also, you are much more inclined to continue using it. This is beneficial to both the database, and the publications listed on it.

Thus, using Boolean operators in academic research is a fine tool. This is because it will help in refining your search results. This complete list of Boolean Operators for academic researchers will guide researchers, as well as students, and teachers in their research. This guide will also help the academic researchers in broadening, or narrowing down their search. This way, it will save them from the hassle of finding the exact match from several entries. But they’ll need to use Boolean operators with care. Because if they enter the wrong operator, they might miss out on important search results, or get irrelevant ones. Thus, if you are an academic researcher who’s going to write a research paper, you’ll find this complete list of Boolean operators helpful.

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