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LS 102 Course Materials

Introduction to Information Research

Proximity Operators

Proximity or positional operators (SAME, WITH, NEAR, ADJ) locate records in which the search terms are in close proximity within the same record. Proximity operators generally are used to connect words or phrases within a search field rather than between search fields.

Proximity operators are not as universal as Boolean operators. Whereas Boolean operators are generally available and treated the same in all databases, proximity operators may not be available in all databases and may be treated differently. Below are examples of the use of proximity operators in the Library Catalog.

"SAME" Operator

The SAME operator locates records in which one bibliographic record field contains all of the specified terms. All of the search terms are located within the same record field (e.g. Author, Title or Subject), though not necessarily in the same sentence.

Example: Chicago SAME History Only records containing both Chicago and History within the same bibliographic field will be retrieved.
The SAME operator is the default operator in the Library Catalog.

"WITH" Operator

The WITH operator locates records in which a field contains a sentence with all of the specified terms.

Example: Chicago WITH History Only records containing both Chicago and History in the same sentence in a bibliographic field will be retrieved from this search.

"NEAR" Operator

The NEAR operator locates records in which a field contains all of the search terms next to each other; however, the order of the terms does not have to match the order they were entered.

Example: Chicago NEAR History Only records with the terms Chicago and History next to each other within the same bibliographic field would be retrieved from this search. Both Chicago History and History Chicago would be retrieved.

"ADJ" Operator

The ADJ operator locates records in which a field contains all of the search terms adjacent to each other and in the order they were entered.

Example: Chicago ADJ History Only records with the terms Chicago and History adjacent to each other within the same bibliographic field and with Chicago listed first in this field would be retrieved from this search.

In addition to allowing the ADJ operator, many databases and search engines allow you to specify precise phrase searches through the use of quotation marks. This enclosed search expression must be matched in the database exactly as typed in the search field.

Examples:
Death ADJ Penalty
"Death Penalty"

Note: Phrase searching in the Library Catalog is done using ADJ or single quotes.

Example:
'Death Penalty'