Looking Chaos in the Eye:
Searching for Websites

Boolean logic? What's that?

It's pretty simple. Boolean logic is a way of doing online (internet or database) research that allows you to get the best search results possible. It works a bit like algebra.

Go to www.google.com and put in the words Northern and Ireland.

What comes up? Pretty much everything that uses the words northern and Ireland, right? And that puts your search somewhere into the millions of hits.

Now go ahead and type in the words Northern AND Ireland...

Using the word AND (or the + sign) narrows your field quite a bit. If you are looking for websites related to Northern Ireland, then you can put the words into parentheses or quotations (i.e., "Northern Ireland").

Now go ahead and type in the words Northern NOT Ireland...

Using the word NOT (or the - sign) changes the focus of your search. Instead of locating information relating to Northern Ireland, you're going to find information on everything northern that is not connected to Northern Ireland.

Now go ahead and type in the words Northern OR Ireland...

Using the word OR changes the focus of your search so that you'll find everything that is connected to both words. You can use this search tool when you are using synonyms. When you are looking for "Northern Ireland" OR Ulster (a synonym for Ulster) you'll wind up with a result that brings in information on both Northern Ireland and Ulster.

Now go ahead and type in (Northern Ireland Murals)...

Using parentheses () or quotations ("") around the noun phrase allows you to do something called nesting. Nesting narrows the search so that you're able to locate the information that is specifically related to the topic of interest. In this case, you'll be able to find the information connected to Northern Ireland's murals.

Now go ahead and type in Northern XOR Ireland...

Using the XOR command you'll be able to access information that is exclusively about Northern or Ireland.

Information Retrieval Assignment
First: On a separate sheet of paper write down 4 of the major keywords and 4 synonyms related to your research topic.

Then: Go to www.google.com and start working with your search to find the best possible sites connected to your topic. How many hits did you get with each of the different boolean commands? What were the search commands that helped the best? What are some of the sites you found? How helpful are they?

From here: Move on to the website evaluation page and look at your pages for their credibility.

22 October 2003