OneSearch Search Techniques: Using Boolean Operators in Basic Search Mode

We hope by now that many of our users, both students and faculty, have used CUNY’s new search tool, OneSearch. Just as you might guess from its title, OneSearch is one location to search all CUNY resources; books, journal articles, streaming video and other digital content.

Here, I’m going to focus on highlighting a search tip that might be helpful; NOT! No, seriously, I mean using the Boolean operator NOT to exclude items from your search. For instance, let’s say you are writing a paper on media bias in politics, but you’re not necessarily focusing on the current, though seemingly everlasting, US presidential election. You want to look at media bias in politics more generally, or historically perhaps. You could start with a keyword search for: “media bias” politics.


This search will pull every record that contains the phrase media bias as well as the word politics. (By the way, the quotes keep the words together as a phrase. Otherwise, it would pull every record with the words media and bias in the record including those instances where the words are not beside each other.)

This results list will very likely have a lot of results about US presidential elections, which you are not really looking for at the moment. So, try searching for: “media bias” AND politics NOT “US presidential election.”


This search will give you all records with the phrase media bias, as well as the word politics, but eliminate all with the phrase US presidential election. It should narrow down your results list substantially. One more thing you could try, if you want to be a super searcher, is to add the wildcard character *. A search for “media bias” AND politic* NOT “US presidential election” will return results with the words politics, political, politically, politico, etc.— in other words, all possible endings for the word politic. From this point you can still do many other things. For instance, limit your search on the left hand side to peer-reviewed articles only, and alter the order from relevance to date-newest.

I hope this tip helps you develop better searches with more relevant results!

-Maureen Garvey