If you think back to learning about mathematical equations, searching is a similar concept.
When you've considered what keywords to search with, now you need to think about the order the search engine might read them in.
Search elements to remember
The examples below are specifically for using the BCU Library Search - other search engines and databases may use the above elements slightly differently.
In a basic sense, search strings are read LEFT to RIGHT.
"Star Trek" AND captain NOT kirk - this search will look for anything about Star Trek captains but not about Captain Kirk.
"Star Trek" NOT captain AND kirk - conversely, this search will look for anything relating to Star Trek, but not mentioning captains, but will then look for the word kirk - there may be resources which mention kirk but not the word captain, or there may be authors named Kirk.
In maths, anything in parentheses (brackets) is read first in an equation. By using this concept in our search, we can really make the search work as intended.
"Star Trek" AND (doctor OR captain) - this will look for anything at all about doctors or captains, then apply the rest of the search L-R. So, it's looking for Star Trek and anything about captains or doctors.
This idea becomes more important the more complex our search string.
"Star Trek" AND doctor NOT (phlox OR crusher) - Now the search is beginning by looking for anything with the words "phlox" or "crusher", then L-R it's searching for anything with Star Trek and doctors, but then excluding those results containing Dr Phlox or Dr Crusher.
"Star Trek" AND (doctor OR captain) NOT (discovery OR "deep space nine") - This search is similar to the above one, and we're now concerned about doctors or captains, but we're not interested in either Discovery or Deep Space Nine.
The examples given on this page apply to typing a search string into the basic search box.
The Advanced Search tool allows you to build a similar search. Anything on a separate line is considered to be (in brackets).
The big value of the advanced search lies in the fields that can be selected.
Searching is a skill to learn. Start off simple, and add new keywords, phrases or operators in to build the search further.
You may not get the results you want immediately:
Finally - don't be afraid to ask for help! We're here 24/7 and are happy to help you learn how to search.