Search Google and Google Scholar with Boolean Operators


Historically, Google and Google Scholar allowed for conducting very simple straightforward searches. Just put a word or two in the search box and you’ll get the search results. This approach had a great appeal to the public and even its perceived limitations could not spoil that attitude.

On the other hand,  bibliographic databases (such as PubMed) with their multiple tools for refining  search results, often were perceived cumbersome and somewhat outdated in terms of design. Still, neither Google nor bibliographic databases could fill each others niche. Users want flexibility, including the ability to conduct both simple and complex searches; the simplicity of Google with the complexity of Boolean search operators and ‘nesting’ .

So how did Google create such a simple search interface?  Behind the scenes, the space between the search terms was executed by Google as a Boolean search operator “AND”. Savvy users also knew to search for either term at once by using the pipe character | (for example, cancer | tumor); the pipe character made Google use an “OR” between the search terms behind the scenes. A minus sign could be used as a NOT operator. Most of such searches worked best when done one at a time.


While the features mentioned above are still valid, now Google and Google Scholar also allow employing proper Boolean Operators typically used in bibliographic databases. Moreover, “nesting” technique (or using parentheses around the “OR” search statement) is also possible.


“carcinogenesis model development” AND (Asmari OR Amararathna)

This search strategy finds documents with the phrase “carcinogenesis model development” (with or without characters such as ‘period’ embedded) authored by EITHER Asmari OR Amararathna.

As mentioned, historical Google syntax is also valid:
“carcinogenesis model development” (Asmari | Amararathna)

Currently, the Boolean operator “NOT” does not work in Google and Google Scholar.

Note: Only capitals should be used for the Boolean Operators in Google.

Editing Endnote citations in a Word document

There are two types of citations in a Word document, the bibliography at the end of the document with the full citation, and the in-text citation that appears at the point where the reference is directly cited, which is a notation (usually the bibliography number or the author name/year) to identify which full citation in the bibliography it is referring to.

Most of the time the standard in-text citation is enough to provide within your document to cite your reference, but there are specific occasions when a more detailed citation is required.

Note: This editing changes individual in-text citations, not the full citation in the bibliography.

One such example for when you might need to edit an in-text citation is direct quotes. Different citation styles require direct quotes to be cited differently.

      • When using an author/year style such as APA 6th, you must also include the page number inside of the in-text citation along with the author and year. Example: (Brennan & Daly, 2015, p. 538).
      • When using a numbered style (JAMA, Vancouver, etc), you include the the page number in parentheses in the superscript in-text bibliography number. Example: 1(p 538)

In order to edit an in-text citation in Word, right-click on the in-text citation you wish to edit, select Edit Citation(s). Alternatively, you can highlight the in-text citation and then click Edit & Manage Citation(s) from the Endnote tab. The dialog box will appear. When using APA 6th, simply enter the page number (example: 538) in the page box and click OK. When using a numbered style, enter the p and page number in parentheses (example: (p538)) in the suffix box.

Editing in-text citations can be used for a variety of specific needs beyond direct quotes, such as differentiating between two references from the same citation, adding notes in the text, footnotes, tables, and more.

Year-End PubMed Activities

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is currently involved in PubMed year-end processing activities.

During this time you may find some unusual patterns in what your regular PubMed searches and searches saved in your My NCBI account retrieve.

Annual changes in MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terminology and hierarchy is one of the most important changes that occur during this time. As a rule, some new MeSH and subheadings (qualifiers) are added; a few MeSH terms are deleted, some MESH terms move to other locations in the MeSH hierarchy, etc. For example, a new MeSH “Progression-Free Survival” will be added; “anastrozole” and “letrozole”, currently belonging in Supplementary Concept category, will be promoted to MeSH; a qualifier (subheading) “manpower” will cease to be.

If you have searches saved in your My NCBI account and/or you are getting PubMed e-mail updates, you may want to consult with a Research Informationist to ensure your saved searches are not affected by the annual changes in the MeSH terminology.  Don’t hesitate to ASK US!

To learn more, check out the announcement regarding the year-end processing activities for 2019.