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InfoSkills for Humanities & Digital Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

2.3. Phrase searching

Isn't search phrasing about putting adjacent words in quotation marks?

Yes. We already discussed phrase searches on the Google pages of Module B as this simple search technique is particularly useful when searching the web.

A recap: phrase searching is putting multiple-word terms ('exact phrases') you want to search in quotation marks. Both words will be searched next to one another in the exact order in which you typed them in. Examples include: "global warming", "genetic engineering", "social media".

What happens if the quotation marks are left out?

As explained on page 2.1, the operator AND is implied in many library databases. When such a database is searched with two adjacent words it will automatically put a Boolean AND between these words, requiring that both words be present in your search results, but not necessarily adjacent to one another. 


Let’s see how this works in practice. 

Below are three results for this example search. How has the database interpreted the search? Clearly, as a Boolean AND search. Both 'global' and 'economy' are present in all results.

But the phrase "global economy" occurs only in the second result. The other results are not about the global economy at all: 'global' and 'economy' appear as separate title words there.  

In conclusion

Searching with parentheses around exact phrases will get you less results. The results you do get will be much more relevant!