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I am carrying out a meta analysis for my PhD using Google Scholar as well as Scopus and Web of Science. I am wanting to find all papers which document the presence of alien or invasive or non-indigenous or non-native or introduced species in kelp forests or kelp beds, excluding all aquaculture or mariculture papers, as well as papers that use the term "teacher" in order to exclude papers pertaining to My Octopus Teacher.

These are my search terms:

(("alien species" OR "invasive species" OR "non-native species" OR "non-indigenous species" OR "introduced species") AND ("kelp forest*" OR "kelp bed*") AND (-"aquaculture" OR -"mariculture" OR -"teacher"))

These terms have worked fine is Scopus and WoS, however Google Scholar seems to be having difficulty with the section: AND (-"aquaculture" OR -"mariculture" OR -"teacher")). This section works if I replace the OR with AND but my concern is that if I do that then I am only excluding papers that include all three of those terms rather than either of those terms.

Is there a way to rephrase that section or am I not using the boolean operators correctly in Google Scholar?

Thank you

2 Answers 2

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These terms have worked fine is Scopus and WoS, however Google Scholar seems to be having difficulty with the section: AND (-"aquaculture" OR -"mariculture" OR -"teacher")). This section works if I replace the OR with AND but my concern is that if I do that then I am only excluding papers that include all three of those terms rather than either of those terms.

Replacing OR with AND is the correct thing to do.

If you want to exclude papers that include any of the terms "aquaculture" or "mariculture" or "teacher," that is equivalent to AND NOT ("aquaculture" OR "mariculture" OR "teacher"). By DeMorgan's Second Law, this is equivalent to AND (NOT "aquaculture" AND NOT "mariculture" AND NOT "teacher"). Translating this into Google Scholar's syntax gives AND (-"aquaculture" AND -"mariculture" AND -"teacher").

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    Thank you, this really helped. I also discovered that I needed to remove the brackets around "aquaculture", "mariculture", "teacher". Additionally it seems that Google Scholar cannot search more than one fixed/exact phrase (using AND) at a time so I've split my search into one with "kelp forest*" as a fixed phrase and similarly one with "kelp bed*" and that has given me a better result. Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 7:57
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No scholar isn't quite as sophisticated as the others you mention for meta-analysis. So, it won't be quite as flexible. So long as you mention this up front in your PRISMA documents (presumably), it shouldn't matter very much. But no, I don't think there's an easy way to do this in scholar.

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