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NOT (Eliminating search results)

You can use NOT to eliminate concepts from your search results to avoid irrelevant results.  For example, if you are looking for information on coaching in the workplace but are not interested in athletic coaching, you could do this:

coaching NOT athletics

The search tool would return results containing the word coaching but would then eliminate any results that also contain the word, 'athletics'.

Note:  While NOT can be a useful tool, it should be used with caution because databases only look for the appearance of a word without understanding context. So using NOT can sometimes eliminate very relevant results simply because the term you wanted excluded is mentioned in passing.  For example, with the above search, you would miss articles with titles along the lines of:

Not Just for Athletics: A Review of the Benefits of Coaching in the Workplace

In general, it's best to avoid using NOT unless absolutely necessary.  It's better to try using AND to narrow your search results down to a manageable number, then use your judgement to eliminate irrelevant results. For example, in this case you could try:

coaching AND workplace

Throughout this section you have seen variations on how AND, OR, and NOT, are represented depending on what search tool you are using.  If you are not sure which symbols your search tool uses, refer to its help guide.  Information on connector words will often be found under the heading: Boolean Operators