Smart queries for smart searching
Boolean logic


One out of three critical steps in the Reuser OSINT Methodology[1]  is Boolean Logic in information retrieval.

No matter how good the requirement analysis, problem deconstruction, source analysis and the collection plan, if the queries are wrong, not logical, contradicting or something else, nothing makes sense anymore. The OSINT system comes down to little details something, and if the details are not correct, the entire research comes to a grinding halt.

This three hour course in Boolean will discuss and demonstrate a systematic method of designing and building pretty exact Boolean queries that will return exactly what you want. The three Boolean operators will be discussed as well as two other operators that are commonly used in information retrieval.

There will be plenty of exercises for you to try, from basic to advanced to almost undoable. Exercises will be available on the training website for you to try at your own discretion.


[1] The RIS Open Source Intelligence Cycle  / A.H.P. Reuser. - In: Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence. - Vol. 10, no. 2 (December 2017)  ; p. 29-44


Want to know what others think about the RIS OSINT Pathfinder training programme? Here is a  review of the OSINT Pathfinder training programme published in the Journal of European and American Intelligence Studies 2019.

What you will learn

The general goal of the course is to teach how to compose productive queries independent from any search engine or on-line database, queries  that will return exactly what you were looking for. In addition, participants will learn common errors, pitfalls and mistakes that will most likely destroy good results.

After the introductions and a quick discussion on where Boolean logic comes in the overall OSINT system, the course will start with basic Boolean operators and their function in information retrieval. A large set of live exercises will test if the participant has grasped the Reuser way of composing basic Boolean queries.

Then, the two remaining operators are introduced: ADJ and PROX. Their function and use in composing queries will be explained and again, a set of exercises is used to test if the participant understand their use.

Finally, not really Boolean but an important service of many searching languages, truncation and stemming will be introduced. The second part is a set of exercises that go from the basic to the advanced level, then to the almost impossible for professionals only, exercises. Traps and pitfalls in query construction are obviously part of all the exercises.



Planning for 2020

Registration is open for the Boolean course in 2020.

Smart Queries for Smart Searching I Tuesday 19 May 2020 15:00 CEST GMT+2 Timezone converter
Smart Queries for Smart Searching II Tuesday 17 June 2020 15:00 CEST GMT+2 Timezone converter

The first session in number I, the second session is number II. The numbers are just sequential numbers. The number II is not a follow up or continuation of number I. All times are UTC+2, CEST, GMT+2 (Summertime) We shall run two identical sessions to accommodate delegates' agenda's.

Admission price

The price for a RIS Boolean Search course is 149,- euro per person for the full course, excluding VAT / btw.

This is an all inclusive price, see What You Will Get further down for all the goodies.

What you will get

All RIS training programmes, courses and workshops are well documented in a variety of support materials and services. The idea of the programme is to understand, not to learn tricks. The tricks are all documented in quick reference sheets and a handbook. arno What you get is :

  1. The full training course for three hours ;
  2. The RIS OSINT Research Machine, an adapted Firefox browser with bookmarks and add-ons pre-installed ;
  3. Quick Reference Sheets with the full command languages of the major international search engines, including the 'secret' operators ;
  4. A hand-picked literature list for your background reading ;
  5. There will be an online training website for participants during and after the course with exercises and handouts ;
  6. One year access to the RIS Helpdesk by phone or e-mail for participants to ask questions to the teacher after the training ;
  7. Hand-signed RIS Pathfinder Certificate of attendance;


Who should attend?

The programme is particularly suited for

  • Analysts and researchers working in conflict areas, for NGO's, or EU/UN missions abroad.
  • Security officers, analysts and researchers working in international security, safety etc.
  • Librarians and information professionals who work for government, semi-government, international governments in support of decision makers ;
  • Scientific researchers who need a solid foundation in information research as a starting point for their research ;
  • Journalists, investigative journalists, writers, historians who are dependent on decent and high quality open source information research  ;
  • Researchers in the private sector, in government agencies, in NGO's ;
  • Cyber crime experts who are looking for the pearls in the haystack ;
  • Financial fraud and financial crime researchers and analysts ;
  • Insurance and risk researchers ;
  • International relations, conflict studies ;
  • Researchers looking for structure, systematic and planned foundations in their work.

Technical requirements

The course will be run entirely via tele-conferencing. We shall use a tele-conferencing tools that is as much as possible safe, private, and does not require you to install a client or tool yourself.

What you need at the least is a laptop and/or desktop PC with a fast Internet connection.

About two weeks prior to the start of the course, I shall send participants full technical details.