Boolean Searching

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Although the familiar boolean search commands (AND, OR, NOT) are widely used for many forms of database searching, including PubMed, they are not universally supported by all web search engines. Table 2.3 lists those supported by the most popular search engines. The functionality offered by AND and NOT mirrors the functionality of [+ and —]. Other commands have a distinct function, for example [SNP OR Analysis] will retrieve all webpages that contain the words SNP or analysis. The NEAR command is not

TABLE 2.3 Boolean Commands Supported by Popular Web Search Engines

Command

How

Supported by

Or

OR

AltaVista, Excite, Google, Lycos, Northern Light

None

FAST, LookSmart,

And

AND

AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, Northern Light

None

FAST, Google, LookSmart

NOT

Excite, Lycos, Northern Light

Not

AND NOT

AltaVista

None

FAST, Google, LookSmart,

Near

NEAR

AltaVista (10 words), Lycos (25 words)

None

FAST, Google, LookSmart

widely supported but can be useful to help to identify two keywords in close proximity to each other.

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