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Research Process: Nesting

an introduction to the research process at a very basic level


Online learning might be referred to distance education, e-learning, or even online course. To get a large set of search results, you may use the "nesting" approach.

Nesting uses parentheses () to search concepts together, and to ask the database to search for the terms that are in the parentheses first.

Nesting approach may use the Boolean operator OR and AND to connect terms.

In the example below, the database will first retrieve any of the words in parentheses and then look for the term next to parentheses.

(Child OR kid OR infant OR youth OR toddler) AND obesity

Nesting can be also used when you are searching for two different aspects of a topic. For example, if you are looking for symptoms and Cure for paranoia, you might use a search like this:

(symptoms OR cure) AND paranoia

In addition, Searches may harvest irrelevant results if the parentheses are omitted. For example:

“secondary school” AND (leadership OR administration)

“secondary school” AND leadership OR administration

In the first example, a search for " secondary school” AND (leadership OR administration) will retrieve results that deal with either secondary school leadership or secondary school administration. This is an efficient search.

However, in the second example, a search for “secondary school” AND leadership OR administration (with parenthesis omitted) will harvest results that deal with secondary school leadership, or deal with administration alone. In this example, we see that not including the parentheses will disconnect the term “administration” from the rest of your search. This may lead to an overwhelming number of irrelevant sources.

In databases advanced search option, you will find drop down boxes containing the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT, that you can use to search without including proper nesting. See example below:

alt="boolean operator in databases advanced search options"