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EEE 598: Multimedia/Qos: Search Interfaces

Best library and internet resources plus literature searching techniques for your assignment.

Search Interfaces - Introduction

Each database is different in regards to how its search engine functions, however, there are enough similarties to be able to make some generalizations. 

On this page, you'll get pointers for:

Search Interfaces - Single Search Box

The single-box search interface is becoming the most common type of search interface and you'll find it both in web-based databases as well as library research databases. Google and it's subsets (Scholar, Books, Patents), and Library One Search, use the single search box. 

  • Many single-box search interfaces will automatically insert the boolean "AND" between the words put in the box; check the database's help file to see if that's the case; you can save some time if you don't have to bother with the "AND"

  • If you do include boolean operators, type the operators in CAPS.   Some databases require operators to be capitalized so that they can be distinguished from their regular word forms "and, or, etc."   For databases that are case insenitive, this capitalization will neither hurt nor improve the search.   So I don't have to memorize which of our hundreds of databases require the capitalization, I always put the AND and OR operators in caps to be safe.  BTW, Library One Search does requires capitalization of the operators.  

  • Keep the search simple - do not put synonyms in the search, instead, do separate searches for each synonym.  Although you have to input the search several times, each results set will have more revelant items at the top than the single search with all the variant terminology crammed into it. 

  • Most single search box interfaces display results in relevancy rank - if you want to see just the most recent items, do not sort the results by date - instead, limit the results to a year or range of years and keep the set displayed by relevancy.   If you sort by date, many of the less relevant items will appear at the top of the list. 

Search Interfaces - Advanced Search w/ Specific Fields

Many single-box search interfaces (such as Google and Library One Search) will also provide an "advanced" search screen giving you search boxes for the specific sections (aka "fields") within a record.  

  • Do not fill in all the search boxes on the form as this will cause either zero results or a very small results list; input only the minimum needed to get good results.

  • The box that says "with these terms" (or something similar) is the same as the single search box, so follow all the suggestions for single box searching when using this field. 

Search Interfaces - Advanced Search w/ Concept Boxes and Fields

The "three row/concept" search interface is the easiest interface to work with when you know not only your concept terms but also their synonyms.   This type of interface is an "advanced" search interface most commonly found in traditional library research databases such as ABI/Inform, Compendex, Inspec, and Web of Science. 

  • Use one row for each concept of your search; so your "P" concept would go in the first row and the "I" concept would go in the second row.  

  • In each row, use OR operator in between synonyms.   (As opposed to the single-box search interface, you can put as many synonyms in this search interface as you want and the database will understand what terms belong where.) 

  • Use the field drop down menu (usually located to the right) to limit the concept to title, subject (indexing term), author, author affiliation (organization) as appropriate. 

  • Although you can usually add more rows onto the search interface, keep the number of concepts you enter to no more than three. 

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