Multi-concept searching requires you to use AND and OR, also known as Boolean logic.

In some search engines, you use a "+" to indicate words that have to be on all of the pages, and a "-" to indicate words that can not appear on the pages. To simulate an AND search if this is the case, use a "+" before every word.

Remember - AND goes between concepts, OR goes between synonyms, and the ORs are grouped by ().

Excite looks at the terms you entered and other concepts like it, so it's the best for this type of search.

If you are not finding enough information, remove one of the facets from the search. By adding facets to the search, you can make it more specific.

This page was created by Scott Nicholson

Copyright 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002 by Scott Nicholson.

Finding information on multi-concept topics

When doing a complex search, you need to break your search topic into facets. What concepts combine to make your topic?

"Early retirement of tenured faculty" = retirement, tenure
"Gays in the military" = homosexual, military
"Effects of alcohol on teenage mothers" = alcohol, teenage, pregnancy

Now use Alta Vista for your search. Enter all of your terms below, putting the word AND (in caps) between each one, such as "alcohol AND teenage AND pregnancy", then select search.

AltaVista   Find this:     

If this doesn't work, the next step is to think of synonyms for the concepts of your topic:
alcohol = drinking; teenage = underage; pregnancy = mother

Put OR between the synonyms of each concepts and surround them with parentheses:
(alcohol OR drinking) AND (teenage OR underage) AND (pregnancy OR mother)

Try your new search in Alta Vista:

AltaVista   Find this:     

You can try the exact same search by going to these other search tools:
MSN Advanced - Google (although Google will ignore the ANDs)

Many times, these searches are successful at your local library on traditional bibliographic databases. If you aren't finding anything through the web, try talking to a librarian.

If this doesn't help, you can either go back to the main AskScott page or ask a human.