Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Home Library Services Our Libraries Student IT Support Digital Skills Centre Skills for Learning
MyAccount Email Moodle VLE MyLSBU

Discovery Search

Covered on this page: 

What are Boolean Operators/Commands?

Boolean searching is a method of combining keywords/concepts using the following three words to improve the relevancy and the precision of search results in a search engine. 

AND  -  NOT  -  OR 

This method is utilized by catalogues, databases, and online search tools. In an academic search engine like Discovery these are not simply words but, they are logical commands and each one of them have their distinctive function. 

Boolean operator ANDAND 

AND operator  narrows your search and returns less results. In a search where you would like to find sources that covers multiple concepts you should use AND. For example,  Leadership AND Social Work (see image) combined in the same search using AND. In theory, this should return results that have the mention of both Leadership plus Social Work. For instance, if a paper mentions only Leadership but not Social Work, it will not appear in your search results. 




Boolean -OROR operator broadens your search and returns more results. Using OR you can connect two or more similar concepts. You could connect similar terms, those could be: 

  • Synonyms
  • Alternative spellings 
  • Broder terms 
  • Narrower terms

In the example displayed on the right Higher Education combined with University using OR operator. This means they both have equal value and your search could return papers that has mention of one or the other or both.




NOT operator narrows your search and returns less results. In a search where you would like to exclude sources which have a mention of a term in relation to another you could use NOT. For example, Social media NOT Facebook. 





Use of Boolean Operators/Commands in Discovery

In Discovery Search three of the Boolean Operators are on the left side of the search box in a dropdown menu where you could choose the appropriate one. The general practice is to select "AND" on the dropdown menu and type the "OR" operator in the search boxes. See the example in the image below: 

Screenshot: Indicating the use of OR and AND boolean commands.