Medline 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, but
there are still additional ways that we can improve them. The problem with the current searches is that
they will only find instances of the phrase pet therapy in that exact order or animal
therapy 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
be often be difficult to predict. For example, there may be an article that
uses the sentence THERAPY UTILIZING ANIMALS. When searching a phrase it is always helpful
to 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 Medline we use the letters adj followed
by a number So if we apply this to our example it would look like this: (animal adj2 therap*).tw,kf. This use of a proximity operator means that
the database has been told to show us articles only where animal appears within two words
of truncated therapy, 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: ((pet or animal) ADJ2 therap*).tw,kf. 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 animal therapy on one
line, and pet therapy 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 pet OR animal near therapy in either direction. To improve it further, I can add another synonym
to the first set of brackets. I’m going to add or dog, and then run the
search. Instead of searching three separate queries
to find articles about therapy dogs, therapy animals, or pet therapy, I can design this
query to look for all three 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 Medline, please
feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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