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IFIS Collections User Guide

IMPORTANT - The search techniques in this section only work if you type them into a single search box. Do not add an extra box; you will get an error message.

Can I use phrase searching?

Yes. To limit your results to those where two or more words appear together as a phrase, type the words in a single search box within quotation marks. You will still see results with both singular and plural versions of any nouns in the phrase. For example, typing “green tomatoes” will return results with both green tomatoes and green tomato in them.

If you type two or more words in a single search box without quotation marks, those words will not be tethered to each other; instead, each can appear anywhere in a record. However, if you rank your results by relevance, the results where the words appear as a phrase in the title field will appear at the top of the list.

Can I truncate the end of a search term?

Yes, but only if you are working in a single search box. You can type the beginning of a term and then add an asterisk following the characters you have typed, with no space. This will return results that have words that have the letters you typed plus any letters following from where the asterisk fell. Typing toxi* will give you results containing toxic, toxics, toxicant, toxicants, toxicity, toxin, toxins, etc.

You can also truncate both the beginning and end of a search term. Typing *toxi* returns results that include toxin, mycotoxin, alfatoxicy, toxinotypes, ergotoxine, mycotoxinogenic, etc.

Can I search with the Boolean operator AND?

Yes, but you don’t need it. IFIS Collections interprets the terms as having a Boolean operator AND between them even when you do not type out the operator.

It is an anomaly of the Collection’s search function that the implicit AND often works better than the written AND. For instance, a search for toxic (cow OR goat) will work, but toxic AND (cow OR goat) does not work.

Combining an implicit AND with OR only works on very simple searches--not on terms that require a phrase.

Searches built with AND (either typed or implicit) require every search term to be present in the results.

Can I search with the Boolean operator OR?

Yes, but only if you are working in a single search box. This can be a great way to broaden your search. The Boolean OR operator captures potential synonyms for search concepts. Typing flavor OR taste in a search returns more results than a search for either word alone. Each of the results will contain a version of flavor, a version of taste, or a version of both words in the records.

Note that if you search a phrase connected by OR to another term, you will want to be sure to put the phrase inside quotation marks; otherwise, each word typed will be searched individually. For instance, if you search branched chain amino acids OR BCAA, you will get an enormous number of results, some of which include only the term acid, or only the term chain, etc., while if you search “branched chain amino acids” OR BCAA, each result will have either the full phrase or the abbreviation or both.   

You must capitalize the OR for it to be read as a Boolean operator. 

Can I search with the Boolean operator NOT?

Yes, but only if you are working in a single search box. You can narrow a search by removing any results containing a specific term by typing a Boolean NOT operator. Typing tomato NOT green will return results that have the word tomato (or tomatoes) in them somewhere unless they also have the word green in them.

However, NOT should never be the first method you use to narrow a search. The term you are eliminating might be used in a record in a way you do not expect. For instance, relevant research about tomatoes could be written by an author named Green. You would not know this if you blocked all results containing the word green. Similarly, brown NOT browning would eliminate any results that contained brown(s) if browning also appeared in them. Other narrowing techniques - adding more terms to your search to make it more specific or using filtering options - are usually safer approaches.

You must capitalize the NOT for it to be read as a Boolean operator.

Can I build a search string that combines Boolean operators?

No, doing this tends not to work properly in IFIS Collections.

Can I use parenthesis to nest parts of a search within a search string?

No, in most cases this will not work. The exception is that you can build a simple search like this: concept1 (concept2 OR concept3)

See Can I search with the Boolean operator AND?