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InfoSkills voor Rechtswetenschappen

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2.4. Phrase searching

Isn't phrase searching about putting adjacent words in quotation marks?

Yes. We've already discussed phrase searches on the Google pages of Module B. A recap: phrase searching is putting multiple-word terms ('exact phrases') in quotation marks. These words will then be searched next to each other in the exact order in which they were entered into the search box.


"global warming"
"genetic engineering"
"social media"
"hearing aids"

What happens if the quotation marks are left out?

As explained on page 2.1, the operator AND is implied in some library databases. If 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 the search results, but not necessarily adjacent to each other. 


Let’s see how this works in practice. Here's a title search for global economy in a library database.

Below are three results returned by the database. It's clear that the search has been interpreted as a Boolean AND search: both 'global' and 'economy' are present in the results.

But only the second result includes the phrase global economy. The other two results are not about the global economy at all: 'global' and 'economy' appear as separate title words there. A search for the phrase "global economy" would have returned a lot more relevant results. 

Some databases automatically search for phrases or adjacent words. Check the database Help screens for details.

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