Nature language searching is like searching on Google and can be useful when exploring a topic completely new to you. As you learn more about a topic, you will likely want to use terms and connectors searches because you can exert more control over the results.
The below chart compares natural language search examples with terms and connectors search examples.
|Natural Language Search||Terms & Connectors Search|
|endangered species sea turtles||"Endangered Species Act" AND "sea turtles" /p habitat!|
|classroom photocopies copyright infringement||(reproduc! OR photocop!) /s (class! OR educat!) AND "copyright infringement"|
Terminology - "Boolean" vs. "Terms & Connectors": Sometimes you'll see terms and connectors searches called "Boolean searches." Technically, Boolean searching just means use of AND, OR, or NOT, but it's sometimes used to refer to all the other search operators too (like the proximity operator /p). If you're checking the help section of a database (always a good idea!) and it lists Boolean searching as AND, OR, and NOT, check to see if there is also a section with a different title that covers other search operators.
If your search retrieves too many results, you can narrow your search by using some of the connectors listed here.
In the chart below, the left column contain operators for use on Lexis, while the right column contain operators for use on Westlaw. This chart can also be downloaded as a PDF at the bottom of this page.
If your search retrieves too few results, you can broaden your search by using OR or root expanders.
In the chart below, the left column contains operators for use on Lexis, while the right column contains operators for use on Westlaw. This chart can also be downloaded as a PDF at the bottom of this page.
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