"I need information about violence on television and its effect on children."

The above sentence expresses what you want - BUT - the computer doesn't understand questions or sentences very well. Your sentence needs to be put into a form the computer better understands.

1. A good computer search has two basic parts:
The concept about which you are trying to find information
and commands or instructions telling the computer how to link the concepts

2. Highlight the main ideas in your concept sentence. " I need information about violence on television and its effect on children."

3. You want these three concepts to be in all of the items you find - so - you want:

violence AND television AND children (This is your search. Try it.)

The word AND is the command or instruction; it informs the computer that you want ALL concepts to be found in all of the articles or books which are retrieved. While not all the articles will be exactly what you want, they will all have the three concepts..

Use BACK BUTTON to return---------- Power Searching.---------- Power Concepts.



AND is a great instruction but there are others when AND alone isn't enough!

A word of caution . With over 25 different database not all of the commands mentioned below will work in all of the databases. The instruction sheets for each of the databases will list the major commands which can be used in the database. Search examples illustrating how to put them together will also be listed on each database guide sheet.

OR ----- Use OR to include similar concepts.

violence AND ( television OR tv OR video ) AND children

Click here for another neat feature of database searching

OR should increase the number of articles you find.

At least one of the concepts within the parenthesis must be found in any of the items retrieved.ALL may be included but only one is required.

Note that the concepts connected by OR are in parenthesis. If parenthesis are not included the search results will make no sense.

NOT-----Use NOT to eliminate a concept from your search.

dolphins NOT miami

If you wanted articles about dolphins (the ones that swim not the ones that tackle) this would be one way of doing it. BUT it would also eliminate the articles about dolphins at Marineland Park in Miami if the article mentioned that Marineland was in Miami. This command requires caution in its use.

ADJ -----Use ADJ to find concept words next to one another - adjacent to one another.

(television adj violence) and children

Depending on the database the ADJ command may require that the words appear in articles in the exact order typed; in other databases the words may appear in either order. Check the instructions for the specific database. Words using the ADJ command are given automatic parenthesis but adding them yourself won't affect the search.

W/S Use W/S to find the linked concept words, in either order, within the same sentence.

The other concept word may be found anywhere in the same record.

(television W/S violence) and children




In addition to the specific concepts you are trying to find, there are some standard concepts which may be found in each database.

concept of time. You want items from a particular year.

concept of language You want only articles in English or Tagalog or Chinese.

concept of form You want magazine articles only - not books.

Concept format differs for each database please check the individual database sheets for instructions.



CLICK on the BACK button until you return to the screen you want



The use of parenthesis gives order to the search. As an example:

What is the answer to the following arithmetic problem?

3 times 7 minus 4

You can't tell.

It could be 17 ~ ~ ~ ~ (3 times 7) minus 4 = 17

It could be
9. ~ ~ ~ ~ 3 times (7 minus 4) = 9

The use of parenthesis tells the computer how to process the request.

Return to Power Searching.


CLICK on the BACK button until you return to the screen you want


The use of TRUNCATION allows you to search for words which begin with the same series of letters or ROOT. Look at the following words. Each begins with the same series of letters (the same ROOT):


Each database uses a symbol which allows you to search for those words with the same ROOT.
Symbols vary for different databases. Following are some common symbols used.

* ? # ! ----- Please check the database's guide to determine the specific symbol it uses.

The following examples illustrate the FORM of its use.

CHILD* ----- finds the words above, and, any other words with the ROOT -- CHILD

The WILDCARD feature is similar to TRUNCATION. Its most common usage is to find both the SINGULAR and PLURAL forms of a word; and, to substitute for variable internal letters.

WOM?N -- finds -- WOMAN ---- and -- WOMEN


Return to Power Searching.
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This page is maintained by P. Charles Livermore
Reference Librarian, St. John's University, New York.
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
718 990 5330
It was last updated on June 18, 1999.
Suggestions and corrections are welcome and should be sent to him.