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Boolean Operators: OR

Using OR

Venn diagram with Cetacean in left circle and Whale in right circle.

OR is used to broaden your search.  When you add OR between two or more search terms, your search results will include either of your search terms.

The blue area in the illustration to the right represents the results that would be returned for the search Cetacean OR Whale. All the articles will have both terms.

Lets take a closer look.

In the database, Web of Science, the searches for Cetacean, Whale, and Cetacean OR Whale break down like this:

Cetacean = 6,652 results
Whale = 19,749 results
Cetacean OR Whale = 22,935 results

Remember OR means mORe!


Follow Up Question:  Why isn't the answer 26,401, the sum of Cetacean + Whale?

Get the Most Out of OR

OR is especially helpful in these situations:

  • Synonyms
    Example: university OR "higher education"

  • Scientific vs. Common Names
    Example: "Branta sandvicensis" OR Nene OR "Hawaiian goose"

  • Alternative Forms
    Example: gold plating OR plated