While a too-broad search in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index often leads to too many results (or too many irrelevant results), a search that is too limited will usually lead to not receiving enough results for your research. In last week’s blog post, we discussed the steps you can take when you’re receiving too many results in your ACI search. In today’s post, we’ll look at the strategies that will assist you when you’re not getting enough results on your desired search topic.
Even the most experienced researchers sometimes receive too few results in their searches, but fortunately, it’s usually a pretty easy situation to rectify and receive more – and more relevant – results for your research. If you’re not receiving enough results in your ACI search, there are four common strategies that may help you to adjust your search in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index for a more effective and relevant search experience: replacing one or more keyword(s), removing one or more keyword(s), adjusting your facet filtering options, and searching for your keyword or topic at one level broader than your initial search.
Replace a Keyword
If you’re not seeing enough results on the search results page in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index, try replacing your keyword or phrase with something more commonly used. This may be a word more commonly-used in general, or it could be a word that is more commonly used within in the discipline itself. For example, in last week’s post, we looked at the benefits of using quotation marks around the phrase “sugar pill” for an exact phrase search. Although doing this resulted in twelve relevant results, another search option would be to use the word placebo, which means the same thing and is more often used by many scholars and researchers in medical, psychology, pharmaceutical, and other professions. In this case, a search for placebo results in more than 1,600 search results, because the term is used by researchers more often than the term sugar pill.
Also, even if you’re more interested in your initial keyword or phrase for some reason, remember that content addressing the less-commonly used term will sometimes use the more widely-used term in a title or abstract before digging deeper into the topic in the actual blog post.
Remove a Keyword
If you ran your initial search using more than one keyword, a second method would be to remove one or more keywords from your initial search terms. For example, if you ran your initial search for the search string DNA replication transcription, you will eliminate those articles that mention DNA replication but not the word transcription, that mention DNA transcription but not the word replication, or that involve those processes but utilize more generalized terminology for DNA research.
Also, keep in mind that while full-text is available for all blogs in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index – either in ACI or through a linkout to the original blog – ACI does not index the full-text for those blogs that do not have full-text within ACI. In other words, if a particular blog is not full-text within ACI, the words contained within that full-text content may not be indexed if not included in that blog’s abstract information. It could be that its ACI abstract discusses DNA transcription, but that replication is also expressly addressed in the full-text of that post. Just because a keyword isn’t indexed for a post doesn’t mean that it isn’t an important component of that article’s content… and simply removing one keyword would allow such relevant articles to be included in your search results.
Adjust your Facets
ACI facets are located on the left side of every search results page. Applying one or more of these facets will help you to further refine your search results list. Clicking on a facet – for example, a Library of Congress Classification facet or an Author Degree Facet – will limit your search results to only those pertaining to that facet. When the facet is applied, that facet option will appear at the top of your page so that you can easily see what your results are filtered by – and you can click on the filter (on the left or at the top) to remove it and return to your previous search results list. Because you can use any number and combination of facets, you can apply and remove varying facet filters to see how applying each facet – or combination of facets – affects your search results list.
Because of this, many ACI researchers apply more than one facet to their searches – and often with spectacular results. However, if you’re not seeing enough results on the search results page in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index, you may want to consider altering your facets. In many cases, this can be resolved by simply removing or adjusting one or more facet filtering options that may have been applied to your initial search. For example, if you search for the keyword diabetes and limit to the MD facet, you may receive great results – but you will not see the many articles about diabetes that were authored by PhD researchers in medical, pharmaceutical, and other related fields. Be sure to consider all options when deciding on which facets to apply, and in which combination.
Broaden your Topic or Focus
A third method would be to search for your topic at one level above your initial search term. For example, if you’re researching the role of the thyroid in gestational diabetes, you might first enter the search phrase thyroid gestational diabetes. If you didn’t receive enough desired matches, however, you could try removing the word gestational and re-run your search with the two keywords thyroid diabetes. Again, because not all blogs in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index are full-text within ACI, it could be that the word gestational or the phrase gestational diabetes wasn’t indexed for those blogs, but that it is still an important focus within an article’s text.
Did you find the above strategies to be helpful in your search? Check out last week’s post on strategies to assist you when you receive too many ACI results, and be sure to add your own favorite search strategies and tips in the comments box below.
To learn more about the ACI Scholarly Blog Index or other ACI resources, please visit the ACI Information Group website. To explore the ACI Scholarly Blog Index, click here for a free individual trial login, or click here to request a free trial customized to your institution.