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Posts Tagged ‘advanced search’

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/

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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/

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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/

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Just published the following video on Youtube, Twitter et al. Sharing here for completeness!

Not seeing the results you expected? Debugging complex searches can be a frustrating experience. Don’t waste time editing Boolean strings: find and fix errors the visual way. Visualise your search in 2D, switch parts on & off, enable and disable terms…experiment and optimise, then save and share.

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

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You may have noticed on this blog that I’ve been busy with a number of things just recently, but I’m pleased to report that we’ve been continuing to add useful features to 2dSearch, and one of them in particular deserves a shout out here.

As you may know, many professions need to perform searches that are comprehensive, accurate and repeatable, using strategies that search across multiple databases with platform-specific syntax and operators. For example, a recruiter looking to fill a particular data science role may want to search LinkedIn, Stackoverflow, Github, and other social forums to find suitable candidates. Likewise, a clinician or information professional performing a systematic literature review may need to search numerous databases such as PubMedEmbaseWeb of SciencePyscINFO, and more. In each case, their search query has to be manually ‘translated’ to the syntax and user interface of each database. All of this is tedious, error-prone, and inefficient.

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I am delighted to announce publication of our latest open-access scholarly paper ‘Rethinking ‘Advanced Search’: A New Approach to Complex Query Formulation‘, which has just been published in the proceedings of the 41st European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR) in Cologne. This work is a collaboration with Jon Chamberlain and Udo Kruschwitz of Essex University, and accompanies our demo at the event.

The paper focuses on the application of query visualisation to structured searching and in particular the challenges associated with the recruitment profession, and hopefully complements some of the more opinion or design-oriented posts on this site. I’ve appended the abstract below. For free access to a copy, visit the ECIR website.

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