Embase 4 – Improving Textword Searching

In this screencast I’m going to show you one of the most important advanced search techniques for improving textword searching. If we look at the searches currently displayed in our search history in line one and line two, they already include truncation and synonyms, but there are still additional ways that we can improve them. The problem with the current search is that it will only find instances of the phrase intrauterine contraceptive device in that exact order. This increases the likelihood of missing relevant results, because authors express their concepts in sentences in a variety of ways, which can often be difficult to predict. For example, there may be an article that uses the sentence contraceptive intrauterine device, or even just intrauterine device, with no mention of contraceptive. When searching a phrase it is always helpful to think of the minimum terms necessary to search, and when necessary to search a phrase, use an adjacency operator, also known as a proximity operator. These codes force a relationship between each word, while at the same time allowing wiggle room for how the phrase might be expressed in a sentence. The adjacency operator isn’t the same in every database, so if you aren’t sure what the adjacency operator is for a particular database, this information is always available in the database’s help section. In Embase we use the letters adj followed by a number. So if we apply this to our example it would look like this: (intrauterine ADJ3 device*).tw,kw This use of a proximity operator means that the database has been told to show us articles only where intrauterine appears within two words of truncated device, in either direction. As with all search strategies, it’s important to look at the results and see if there’s anything that needs to be changed in order to retrieve more relevant results. You may need to increase or decrease the number used in the adjacency operator, search for more synonyms, or consider different truncations. To improve this search further, I can search this instead: ((intrauterine) ADJ3 (device* OR coil* OR system*)).tw,kw You’ll also notice that I’ve added additional brackets to this last version of the search. The brackets have the same function in database searching as they do in math order of operations. An understanding of brackets can also make your searching more efficient. Instead of searching intrauterine device on one line, and intrauterine coil on another line, I’ve used brackets to search both at the same time. The brackets in this search tell the database to search for intrauterine near either device, coil, or system in either direction. To improve it further, I can add another synonym to the first set of brackets. I’m going to add or intra uterine (two words), and then run the search. As search lines get added, prior lines may be hidden to save space. To see all search lines, click on Expand on the right hand side of the screen. Since the addition of line five captures everything from the previous lines and more, lines one, three and four become redundant and can be removed. To remove these lines, click on the boxes on the left side of the page for lines ones, three and four, and click on the button, here at the bottom, that says remove. Instead of searching multiple separate queries to find articles about intrauterine devices, intrauterine coils, or intrauterine systems, I can design this query to look for all combinations at once, while still providing wiggle room in the phrases, and looking for alternate word endings. Remember, textword codes are your friends, but they take practice. If you have any questions about Embase, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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