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.
"Asian Americans" AND STEM
When you put two terms in the search box, AND is usually implied: Here, we want both STEM and the phrase "Asian Americans" to appear in the results. Searching "Asian Americans" as a phrase will ensure that we don't see extraneous things where the words are not next to each other.
I could also add quotation marks around the single abbreviation STEM if I noticed that the results were stemming the word — stemming refers to looking up variations of the root. In this case, STEM, stems, stem, stemming, stemmed, and so on will match. Usually, quotation marks around a single word force the database 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 am looking up AAPI by both the abbreviation and the spelled-out term (but I decided to parse the quotation marks differently and use an AND operator between them.)
AAPI OR ("Asian Americans" AND "Pacific Islanders")
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.
In this example, I'm looking for information about Asian Americans and tenure, but I don't want any of the results to talk about Humanities faculty. (Note: If I weren't using an example, I would actually just look for the disciplines I want instead of using the NOT operator.) 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.
("Asian Americans" AND tenure) NOT Humanities
Google and Google Scholar use a minus sign connected to the word/phrase instead of NOT:
("Asian Americans" AND tenure) -Humanities
In the databases listed below, here are some useful things to keep in mind:
Subject-specific databases are a key resource for finding secondary literature, including the latest scholarly journal articles and book reviews in the field, and the databases of historical literature that may be especially useful this semester are:
Searching these databases will allow you to check for the latest scholarly articles, reviews of books, citations to book chapters, and more in a wide array of historical journals. Please note: the full text of articles will not always be available in these databases. If you see the "YaleLinks" icon instead of a PDF, click on the icon to discover whether we have online access to the article.