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Last week I was privileged to present at the London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) on the topic of “Think outside the search box: a AI-based approach to search strategy formulation“. LIKE are unusual in that their meetings often take place in the evening, accompanied by drinks and dinner. I’d not presented in a pub before, at least not over dinner, and had to work hard to resist the temptation to segue into some sort of ill-advised attempt at stand up comedy. It’s amazing what the combination of a hand held mic and a pint of Young’s pale ale can do…

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I know the official publicity may not have reached your inbox just yet, but here’s a sneak peek at this year’s lineup for Search Solutions 2019. For those unfamiliar with the event, it is described as:

… the premier UK forum for presentation of the latest innovations in search and information retrieval. In contrast to other major industry events, Search Solutions aims to be highly interactive, with attendance strictly limited. The programme includes presentations, panels and keynote talks by influential industry leaders on novel and emerging applications in search and information retrieval.

As last year we’ll be preceding the event with a tutorials day on November 25, which will offer conference attendees and local participants a stimulating and informative selection of practical training courses reflecting current topics and state-of-the-art methods in search and information retrieval. More on that later! Meanwhile, here is the provisional programme thus far:

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Researchers, information professionals, patent searchers and recruiters all require effective search to perform their duties, often relying on form-based query builders. However, these tools require the use of complex Boolean syntax and offer limited support for error checking or optimization. Moreover, this approach precipitates a number of other issues:

  • Systematic literature review is the cornerstone of evidence-based medicine, but the search strategies used often contain errors
  • Search strategies can be improved and optimised thorough peer-review, but the platforms for this practice are rarely open to public scrutiny
  • Managing search strategies using document-centric tools such as MS Word or PDF introduces errors through unwanted conversion of control characters (e.g. quotation marks and truncation symbols), removal of spaces, addition of line breaks etc.
  • Copy and pasting searches from documents/spreadsheets into search boxes introduces further errors
  • Publishing search strategies as supplementary materials scales poorly and data can become lost over time

So I’m pleased to share the following webinar, which discusses these challenges and offers some solutions. It is presented by Farhad Shokraneh, who is an information specialist in the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group at the University of Nottingham. He is co-author of search chapter in Cochrane Handbook and an invited editor for Systematic Reviews and World Journal of Meta-Analysis. The webinar was kindly hosted by the Knowledge Synthesis Interest Group of the Canadian Health Libraries Association.

Think outside the search box: https://www.2dsearch.com/

IRSG logoJust in case you missed it, here are details of the latest issue of Informer, which came out on this week. As usual, lots of good stuff, with a mix of conference reviews, feature articles, news and updates in the world of IR. For further details see the Informer website. Or if you fancy becoming a contributor, get in touch!

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Summer’s finally here, and with it comes another milestone for 2dSearch: alternative visualisations. The default ‘Nested’ view has its strengths, but it isn’t to everyones liking. So we’ve added two completely new ways to view, understand and optimise your searches:

  • Tree View, which uses the metaphor of the family tree, with a root node at the top and successive generations of children below
  • Inline View, which maps hierarchical structure onto physical structure with groups aligned a common midline, allowing a traditional left-to-right ‘Boolean string’ reading

And of course you still have the Nested View, which maps hierarchical structure onto a series of nested containers. And all of this for free! There’s lots more details in our Medium post, but for the best experience just try them out for yourself.

Think outside the search box: https://www.2dsearch.com/

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve seen something out of the corner of your eye, then turned to look but it’s gone? We’re left feeling cheated, as if some magic took place that was never intended for our eyes. But the reality is often more prosaic: cells in the human retina are arranged such that movement and contrast are better perceived around the peripherae, while the central region is better suited to colour and detail. It’s a simple explanation, but one that reminds us that in order to better understand, we sometimes need to see in different ways.

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Just published the following video on Youtube, which complements last week’s piece on the topic of How to debug and optimise Boolean strings. As always, comment & feedback welcome.

Struggling with complex Boolean searches? Editing Boolean strings is inefficient & error prone.

With 2dSearch you can visualize your search in 2D, then drag & drop blocks to optimise and refine. Use automated query suggestions to refine your search. Works with Bing, Google, Google Scholar, PubMed, TRIP, Epistemonikos and more. When you’re done, you can save & share your own collection of search templates and best practices.

Think outside the search box: https://www.2dsearch.com/