Affective Elaborations of

Boolean Search Instructions for Novices:

Effects on Comprehension,

Self-Confidence, and Error Type

Dr. Diane Nahl

http://www2.hawaii.edu/slis/nahl/articles/asis95.html

University of Hawaii

School of Library and Information Studies

October 10, 1995

ASIS Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL

SEARCH STATEMENT 6

(children who have been abused and punished) NOT self-esteem

[Note: this is not a good search statement because it contains natural language phrases ("who have been") and will almost certainly give you zero articles. This is because it is unlikely that the long phrase would appear verbatim anywhere in the records of the database.]

Search statement 6 is incorrect. It is important to avoid using natural language phrases in your search statements. Be sure to look at the search statement and edit out any natural language phrase present. To correct search statement 6, you can use two steps:

SEARCH STATEMENT 7, Step A:

(children AND abused AND punished) NOT self-esteem

SEARCH STATEMENT 7, Step B:

(child OR children) AND (abuse OR abused) AND (punish OR punished)

NOT self-esteem

[Note: Search statement 7A is better than 6 since it eliminates natural language phrases and translates them into concepts. However, search statement 7B is better still since it provides for possible word variations which are likely to occur]

STUMBLING BLOCKS IN SEARCHING

* Non-Probabilistic Logic

* Semantic Leakage

Circle the concept(s) that must appear in every article retrieved by this strategy:

(driving behavior OR drivers) AND risk-taking.

Circled "driving behavior"

Explanation: "Because the interest is in driving and correlation to behavior, style, motive, etc., I feel that the circled concept must be in every article.

Circled "driving behavior"

Explanation: "Because it's the general area under which more specific areas pertaining to driving fall."

Circle the concept(s) that must appear in every article retrieved by this strategy:

(driving behavior OR drivers) AND risk-taking.

Circled "driving behavior"

Explanation: "Because it covers the main topics."

Circled both "driving behavior" and "risk-taking"

Explanation: "Risk-taking is a characteristic of driving behavior. Because of this relationship, both concepts will be with articles retrieved."

Errors Found in Search Statements

Write a search statement for a search that will give you articles that are only about the types of people who park illegally in parking spaces reserved for the handicapped.

* Making a Boolean Inversion

drivers AND illegal parking OR handicapped

* Not using a Boolean Operator

illegally handicapped parking

Errors Found in Search Statements

* Neglecting Word Form Variations

park AND illegally AND handicapped

* Using Common Natural Language

(illegal driving behavior OR types of illegal parking) AND (types of drivers who park in handicapped stalls)

Errors Found in Search Statements

* Neglecting Concepts

drivers AND handicapped spaces