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Scotsman.com's search facility contains various features which you will come across as you browse through it.
You begin your search by entering a word or words of your own choice (the "search term"), which describes what you're looking for, into the search box. You can improve your chances of finding what you're looking for by bearing the following points in mind.
First of all, be aware that the system isn't designed to answer specific questions, but rather to search for text relevant to a particular topic. (So it isn't like Ask Jeeves, for example.) If you type in a question, you won't get a factual response, but rather a collection of links to web pages that may contain answers to the question you asked.
Thus, it's better to enter words directly relevant to the topic you're interested in, instead of asking a question or entering instructions.
This is because topic-based queries contain fewer irrelevant words (called "noise") than do questions or instructions. Therefore, they are easier to construct and the system can process them more quickly.
Here are some examples (note that you don't need to enter the quotation marks):
OKAY: "find articles about molecular physics"
BETTER: "molecular physics"
OKAY: "how do I plant tomatoes?"
BETTER: "planting tomatoes"
The websites are organised into several different zones. You can see these zones listed in the middle of the Advanced Search page.
The zones include:
You can select one of these zones and then click search - this will mean that your search only happens within your chosen zone.
Or if you want to select more than one zone at a time, hold down the Control key (Ctrl) on your keyboard and click the zones you want at the same time. Then click Search. Your search will now happen across the multiple zones you have selected. If you want all zones, simply click the top zone, hold the Shift key, and select the bottom zone.
On the Advanced Search page, you'll see that the Search Style pull-down menu has three settings: Broad, Average and Narrow.
The effect of each setting is as follows:
A narrow search style doesn't mean that you'll get a small number of search returns - it means that your query is interpreted in a highly specific way. The system will be very particular about the way you've spelled a word and it interprets your request very strictly. The pages it returns should have a strong relevance to your search term and because of this, bear in mind that very few of them will match precisely enough to be returned.
An Average search style, as the name implies, defaults to what is called an average expansion level. This means that it is a middle of the road option which interprets your search term reasonably strictly and provides more returns than the Narrow search style. Spelling is treated slightly more loosely. As you'll see, this is the default option.
A Broad search style has what is called a high expansion level. It treats your query as a very general one. Even pages which only have a fairly remote relevance to your query will be returned and this means that many web pages will match and so the downside of this tolerant approach is that you'll have a lot more material to wade through.
One good tactic is to start with a Broad search and then proceed through Average and Narrow in order to refine what is returned to you.
There are three modes or search types: Concept, Pattern, and Boolean. You can even mix these types within a single search, if you wish.
In Concept mode (the default mode), the system uses English-language dictionaries and thesauri as a knowledge base from which to process your queries. These queries provide information about word meanings, syntax, word variations, and relationships between words. These defined relationships between words make it possible to link them together in a "semantic network". ("Semantic" means "about meaning".)
In this semantic network, each word meaning has an associated list of words and link strengths, which indicate how closely each word is linked to that meaning. Individual words can be linked to multiple meanings, at different strengths. You can control how many and which links are traversed by changing the expansion level, or by using no expansion at all.
The semantic network makes it possible for the system to search for concepts,or "units of meaning", instead of searching for just exact matches to your query words. For example, a query of "job seeker" may also locate the similar concepts of "applicants," "candidates," "hired," and "opening".
Expanding the concept
You can expand the concept of your search word. To do this, place an exclamation mark (!) immediately after the word you want to expand.
For example: pebble! may expand to rock, boulder, fragments, etc.
Special operators within concept mode
You can use any of the following characters, called "operators", in Concept mode (singly or in combination). Terms with these operators won't be processed with normal concept expansion.
A pattern search finds documents that contain the query words as well as similarly spelled words.
Pattern mode is also useful when you are not sure about the correct spelling of a word.
For example: if you type farmasutical, the system will do a pattern expansion and find pharmaceutical.
To do a pattern search while you are in a different search mode, place a tilde (~) immediately before the word.
For example: type ~farmasutical if you are using Concept or Boolean mode.
Special operators within Pattern mode
You can use any of the following operators in Pattern mode (singly or in combination). Terms with these operators won't be processed with normal pattern expansion.
A Boolean search uses traditional Boolean operators to find exact matches for all query words you enter. Boolean operators are words like AND, OR, NOT. They allow you to use logical combinations of words to find things (or to exclude things).
For example: if you want to find information about good beaches or resorts in Hawaii, enter the query "(beaches or resorts) and Hawaii".
If you are in Boolean mode, and you do not use any Boolean operators, the AND operator will be assumed between each term.
Special operators within Boolean mode
You can use any of the following operators in Boolean mode (singly or in combination). Terms with these operators won't be processed as a normal Boolean term.
The table below shows you the different operators, symbols you can use instead of words, how they all work and which ones take precedence:
P = order of precedence
|( )||(word1 | word2) & word3||Parentheses can be used to override the precedence of other operators and can be nested to any depth.||1|
|not, ^||not word1
|Word1 must not be found in the document.||2|
|and, &, but||word1 and word2
word1 & word2
word1 but not word2
|Both word1 and word2 must be found in the document. If no operator is present between two words, and is the default.||3|
|within||word1 word2 within N||Word1 must be found within N words of word2.||4|
|between||word1 between word2 and word3||Word1 must be found between word2 and word3.||4|
|adj||word1 word2 adj N||Word1 must be found within N words of word2, and word1 must come before word2.||4|
|or, |||word1 or word2
word1 | word2
|Either word1 or word 2 must be found in the document.||5|
Search results are ranked by relevance. The calculation of a document's relevance takes into account the following factors. Each factor adds a certain relative "weight" to the document. Added together, these weights determine a document's relevance.
A "Find More Like This" search is another method to use to refine your search. If an initial search located a document that contains many relevant terms, you can use it as an example of the document you want to locate. The query program looks for other documents that are similar to the document you designate as the example.
No word expansion is performed on More Like searches. Instead, the query program analyzes every word in the document (excluding title and other field information) to determine physical location, frequency, and number of meanings. Individual words are ranked higher if they occur at the beginning of the document, occur more frequently, and have fewer meanings. The program then generates a ranked set of 10 words to be used as a query against all other documents in the database. More Like searches use more words than normal statistical queries and the program must first compile the query. For these reasons, More Like searches take longer to process, generate larger responses, and return documents that tend to have lower overall rankings. The reason rankings are lowered is due to the high number of search terms, which dilutes the strength of hits.
This kind of search is most effective when:
This option allows you to carry out a new search within only those documents which have been returned from your existing search. Of course, this option will only be available if you have carried out an initial search.
This is most effective when:
To select this option, tick the box on the Advanced Search page (you'll probably find it is already ticked by default).
When you follow this link, the article is displayed with highlighted hit words from the original query. You'll see them marked in red text - these are words which match precisely. You'll also see some words highlighted in blue - these are words which are similar to your search term(s).
If you see a question mark in brackets after a hit word, you can click on the question mark for an explanation of why the system thinks this word is appropriate.
When you do a search, the system looks through the whole of each document. That is, not just the main text but also the text of any identifiable headline or byline.
However, if you choose, you can opt to search just by headline or just by byline. Therefore, for example, you could seek all the articles by a particular author, or all headlines containing a certain keyword.
You can use this drop down box to set a date limit so that your search will, for example, only pick out recent items which contain your search term(s).
A query that substitutes part of a word, name, or number with a wildcard character (*, ?, [search expression], _, @, \, #, ^ ) to substitute for unknowns in the search terms or database, or to search for multiple terms. Wildcards can be used in Concept or Boolean mode (not Pattern), in full text search or field entries, in multiple words, and even multiple times in one word.
Use wildcards as substitutes for unknown parts of words or numbers. The system does not perform concept or pattern expansion on query words that use wildcards. Rather, the system only expands the word.
For example: the query term over* might expand to: overact, overcoat, overdo, overhand, etc.
Most effective when you are:
|@||match exactly one alpha character||c@re|
|#||match exactly one numeric character||#600|
|*||match any character(s)||pharma*|
|?||match exactly one character||la?er|
|||match only one character within the brackets; can include a hyphen to indicate a range of numbers or letters||199[1-6]|
|^||match any character except the next character||199^[1-3]|
A query (Concept or Pattern) in which terms related to a common concept are grouped together with parentheses in order to improve search accuracy. The words within the parentheses are expanded, matched, and ranked for relevance as a group, instead of as individual words.
The key features are:
Most effective when
You can search for exact phrases within any primary query type (Concept, Pattern, or Boolean) by enclosing the phrase in double quotation marks. Exact phrase searches are useful when you know exactly how something is worded in the document library because you've seen it before.
You can't choose meanings or expansions for the terms enclosed in quotes. You can enclose any number of words (including just one) in quotes. With an exact phrase, hits are only returned when the enclosed words occur in the same order and proximity as in the document library. This means you may inadvertently exclude some relevant documents if you're not sure of the exact phrasing in the library.
For example: if you included the phrase "united states department of justice" in your query, you would not get a hit on "United States Justice Department". To eliminate this limitation, enclose each separate word in quotation marks ("united states" "department" "justice"). Other query words may precede or follow exact phrases, and you may have multiple exact phrases within a query. Any stop words within the exact phrase will be removed. For example, if you searched for "phantom of the opera" you would also find "phantoms in operas" if those words happened to be in the library. You can also use exact phrases with nested numbers, dates, wildcards, and pattern match operators:
When you choose a query type (Concept, Pattern, or Boolean), all query words you enter are normally expanded in the following manner:
Concept query words are expanded to related terms via the semantic network;
Pattern words are pattern expanded;
Boolean words are not expanded at all. You can "mix" these query types by entering special operators on specific query words. This causes the terms with operators to be treated differently from the rest of the query terms for whatever query type you're using.
To expand individual words via the semantic network when you're not in Concept mode, enter a semantic operator (!) following the word. That word will be expanded to query terms with related meanings, up to the expansion level you set in the Query page.
For example, if you were to enter child! psychology in Boolean mode, the word "child" might expand to "youngster," "kid," and "children," and the word "psychology" would not be expanded.
To expand individual words to matching patterns when you're not in Pattern mode, enter a pattern operator ( ~ ) preceding the word. That word will be expanded to similarly spelled words in the library, up to the number of pattern match words you set in the Query page.
For example, in Concept mode, if you weren't sure how to spell "psychology" you might enter child ~psycology to concept expand "child" and still pick up the word "psychology," even though you didn't spell it correctly. Boolean words in Concept or Pattern mode (exact phrase search)
To keep specific query words from being expanded when you're not in Boolean mode, enter double quotes (" ") around the terms. The words in double quotes are not expanded, and multiple words in quotes must be found in the order they were entered.
This can be useful when you're looking for a specific name or phrase. For example, if you were to enter "child psychology" magazine in Concept mode, the phrase "children's psychology" wouldn't match, because "child" wouldn't expand to "children." Likewise, "psychology of a child" wouldn't match, even though the stop words "of" and "a" are ignored, because the terms "child" and "psychology" are out of order.
To prevent the expansion of multiple words—without the word order constraint—enclose each word in separate quotes (enter "Justice" "Department"cases to find both "Justice Department" and "Department of Justice").
You can also use double quotes around phrases in Boolean mode, as a way to restrict the order of words you find. For example, child psychology would match "psychology of a child," but "child psychology" would not because of the word order constraint.
The search process can be viewed as a sort of pipeline. At one end, you enter query words. During their journey down the pipeline, the query words undergo several phases of analysis and processing. This processing both contracts and expands the original list of query words, until at the end of the pipeline, a final search list is created.
First, the words are "tokenized" (tokenization breaks strings of characters into words, including special forms such as dates or phone numbers). The system then uses the dictionary for morphological analysis (reducing words to simpler forms by stripping off suffixes and re-spelling plurals) and idiom processing (translating phrases that have a meaning beyond that of the individual words, such as "real estate"). It also removes certain small-function words called 'stop words' (like "the" or "of") that provide little value in locating the information you're looking for.
As the query words travel farther down the pipeline, they're expanded via the dictionary and the links in the semantic network. When the system expands words, it finds other terms and concepts related to the query words and adds them to the list of search terms. The list of words is ranked, so that exact query words are ranked highest, then closely related terms, then more distantly related terms. This ranked word list is used by the system to search the indexes to the documents in the library. During the search, the program determines:
Using this information, the system identifies and ranks the "hit words" in documents. Based on the strength and number of these hits, documents are found and ranked in order of probable relevance. The hit words are then marked in red within the text as you will see when your results are returned to you.