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Finding aids consortium help


How does the search work?

The Search Finding Aids box searches for words located anywhere within a guide.

To search the Web site, type a word or phrase into the search box. Click the 'Go' button, or press the 'Enter' key on your keyboard. The results page shows your first 10 matches. If your search yields more than 10 results, click on the 'Next' or page number links at the bottom of the page to view more. The search engine does not include content from NLM databases such as PubMed Central or Clinical Trials.

The default display for NLM searches is a comprehensive list of 'All Results'. The results are displayed in order of relevance.

All results search example

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What do the links under 'All Results' mean in the 'Refine by Institution' box in the left column?

Your initial search results show matches from across all the finding aids. The links in the 'Refine by Institution' box organizes the results by institution to help you narrow your search. The number in the adjacent parentheses indicates the total number of hits for each set.

Institutions are organized alphabetically within 4 sets:

  1. A-D
  2. E-M
  3. N-S
  4. U-Z

Click the triangle icon to expand the list of institution names. Click each name to display the search results.

Click the X icon to close the set.

Image of search results for the keywords yellow fever

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What do the links in the 'Refine by Keyword' box mean?

The 'Refine by Keyword' box organizes your search results into clustered groups based on the most frequent words in the top 200 results. For example, a search on "yellow fever" might return a cluster of documents that contain the phrase "Walter Reed". Clustering helps you narrow down a large set of results quickly to find what you're looking for. The number in the adjacent parentheses indicates the total number of hits for each set.

Click the plus sign (plus sign) next to a cluster to expand the clusters and the minus sign to collapse them.

Refine by keyword example

Click 'remix' to see different clustered groups related to your search. Each time 'remix' is clicked new patterns will appear from the most frequent words in the top 200 results.

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Can I search a phrase?

To search for phrases, type the phrase in quotation marks. For example, type "rocky mountain spotted fever" in quotes in the search box.

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Are Boolean searching and wildcards allowed?

The Boolean operators 'OR', 'NOT', '-', and '+' may be used in your query. Using 'AND' is not necessary. All words are searched by default.

The asterisk '*' can be used as a wildcard character.

Boolean TermDescription
OR Use 'OR' when you only need at least one of the search words to appear in the results. Example: "aspirin OR tylenol"
NOT or - Use 'NOT' or '-' when you do not want a particular term to appear in the results. Examples: "heart defects NOT attack" or "heart defects -attack"
* Use '*' as a wildcard to search on all words that contain the letters you enter. You must enter a minimum of three letters plus the '*' character. Example: "mammo*" would find "mammogram" or "mammography" or "mammoplasty"
+ Use '+' when you require the exact word to appear in all of the results. For multiple words, you must use put a + sign in front of each word that must be exact. Example: search on "+lipitor cholesterol" if you only want to retrieve results with the brand name "Lipitor" and the word "cholesterol", and no results with the generic synonym "Atorvastatin"

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What types of files are searched?

The search engine finds these file types:

  • Web pages (.html, .htm)
  • Adobe® Acrobat PDF (.pdf)
  • Encoded Archival Description (EAD) (.xml)

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Is the search case-sensitive?

No, the search engine is not case-sensitive. For example, a search on "aids" will also return pages containing "AIDS".

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Will the search check my spelling?

Yes, the search engine checks your search words against all of the words collected from the web site. When a word appears to be misspelled, the search engine looks at all the words it knows and offers you a word that could replace it.

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What about entering special characters, like ñ or ö?

The search engine does not require foreign language words to contain accented symbols, but you may enter them if you want to. For example, searching on "Albert Szent-Györgyi" and "Albert Szent-Gyorgyi" will both return the same results from the Profiles in Science site.

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What if this FAQ doesn't answer my question?

If the Search Help does not answer your questions, contact HMD Reference and we will do our best to assist you.

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