- Top resources
- Boolean operators
- What is an abstract database?
- Core databases
- ProQuest Natural Sciences Collection
- Theses and Dissertations
- What if we don't have it?
- Google Scholar Troubleshooting Checklist
- Subject browsing
- Finding specific items in the print catalog
Field Guides and Maps
- Field Guide Discovery: Basics
- Major Collections of Electronic Field Guides
- How to Find Maps
- How to view maps at Marx Library
- Digital map portals
US Government Publications
- Finding legislative and executive branch literature about your park's founding
- Locating info from the Department of the Interior
Boolean Search allows you to customize how you search for things in academic databases (and in many search engines, like Google). It's based on a few key pieces of syntax: AND, OR, NOT, (), and "". Notice that these operator words are all uppercase — that's the convention in many tools.
"wind cave" OR "maka oniye"
Let's say that multiple terms are in use for something or I want to look up a term and its synonyms. Here, we are searching for both the English and Lakota terms for Wind Cave, which is a useful thing to do if you want to catch both scientific and cultural literature. The term maka oniye is a simplified version of makȟá oníye, as the Lakota language uses diacritics.
I could also use quotation marks around a single word. For example, I may be looking up government bills related to Wind Cave. If I type "wind cave" bills legislation, Google and some databases will decide that bills could also be Bill or William. Typing "wind cave" "bill" legislation will force the tool I'm using to search verbatim.
Let's say that multiple terms are in use for something or I want to look up a term and its synonyms. Here, I want to have results about Wind Cave all of the time, and I want to match that word with either bill or law.
"wind cave" AND ("bill" OR "law")
Notice that I added () to the search. This helps the database know that I am nesting operators, and it works similarly to how the order of operations works when doing mathematics.
If I wanted to do the searches separately, I could do
"wind cave" AND "bill"
"wind cave" AND "law"
but it's easier to nest these together.
In this example, I'm noting that sometimes, I get results about Cave of the Winds in Colorado, not the Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Another place where this is very useful? Google Scholar, where everything seems to be about clinical trials. If you see many results that you don't want, finding a common noun phrase or term in those results is the best way to brainstorm what to take out.
"wind cave" NOT Colorado
Google and Google Scholar use a minus sign connected to the word/phrase instead of NOT:
"wind cave" -Colorado