Term nesting is a powerful search strategy that allows you to pinpoint specific types of information by grouping terms inside parentheses and combining the term groups with different search operators. The tricky part is making sure you have structured your search so that it does not give you unintended results. Here are a few examples:
- Search question: I would like to find first-hand evidence of public opinion regarding allegations of Aaron Burr’s acts of treason or conspiracy.
- Suggested search: Burr AND (treason OR conspiracy)
- Search question: I would like to find articles to help me compare tax issues in Maryland and in Virginia.
- Suggested search: taxes NEAR15 (Maryland OR Virginia)
- Search question: I would like to find articles about tax issues in Pennsylvania, but not about poll taxes.
- Suggested search: (tax Pennsylvania) NOT (poll NEAR4 tax)
Note: Not enclosing terms within parentheses will get you different, often less precise results. For example, Burr AND treason OR conspiracy will retrieve all articles that include the word “conspiracy” whether or not they also include the word “Burr.”