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Information retrieval and use

Selecting and combining search terms

Search engines see words only as chains of letters put together

There is hardly any intelligence in databases. They only look for given chains of characters, which can be words, abbreviations, or just about anything else.

  1. In order to find words with different endings or plurals of words, you should use a truncation character, also called wild card. These marks vary but most often the asterisk (*) is used to indicate truncation.

product* finds product, products, production, productive, productivity, productization, productize…

  1. Learn to think in sets.

There is the set of hits, which include searchword1 and another set with searchword2

When you use the truncation mark, you find a set of hits, which contain at least one word beginning in the given way. See #1.

  1. When you search a concept, which is described with two or more words, you are using a phrase. In these cases, you type quotation marks around your phrase to tell the search engine that the word must appear together and in that exact order. In most databases, you can use a truncation mark inside the phrase.

”supply chain”

”life cycle cost model*”

  1. To combine searchwords, use Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT.

quality AND control means that all hits contain the given words

manufacture OR produce means that all hits must contain either one of the given words

energy NOT nuclear means that uout of the set, which contains the word energy, hits with the word nuclear will be excluded

  1. The searchwords can also be combined by using a proximity operator. This operator defines the distance (number of words) of two given search terms. In this example the form W/n is used, in which n equals the maximum allowed number of words between the given searchwords. The searchwords can also appear in reverse order. 

quality W/2 control* means that we find e.g. quality control, controlling quality, controlling product quality, quality and productivity control…

  1. You can also combine the before mentioned ways to create a search sentence. It looks like a mathematical expression and actually behaves like one, too. 

”supply chain*” AND performance AND (metrics OR measur*)

means that we search measuring the performance of supply chains. There is a phrase (notice the truncation mark within the phrase) followed by a single word and finally two alternative words combined with the OR operator within brackets. The brackets tell the system that that notion must be performed first and the retrieved set is then combined with the two other sets.

Accessing databases and other information sources

Information sources are used via university portals. The portal search, like searching via LUT Primo, covers most of the available databases at the same time. When the searcher wants to search an individual database's own content, they access the database's user interface via the university portal. The latter gives a more precise result but then all required databases must be searched individually. Using the portal search feature gives a broader result, which, alternatively, can be even too wide to study.

Regardless of the used search service, using the available help service (help, info etc.)  is worthwhile. There you find precise information about using that particular service.