Tips from NARIC on Perfecting your Database and Online Search Strategies: REHABDATA Advanced Search Functions

In this edition of “Tips from NARIC” we provide an overview of the advance search functions of our REHABDATA literature database. In our last edition, we introduced (or reintroduced) readers to our REHABDATA literature database.

Our information specialists utilize advanced search functions of REHABDATA to assist patrons with particularly interesting and challenging requests for information. The challenge could be the type of disability, such as rare conditions with little research, or well-studied disabilities with a wealth of information available. Combing terms, choosing fields, and excluding items will help you change the “needle” and the “haystack” of the search equation.

A Look at the Interface

REHABDATA Advance Search Screen
Take a quick look at the advanced search page and notice the top four search blanks:

All the words: looks for all the words you type, in any order, anywhere in the records. Searching spinal cord injury will look for all of those words in the record. They all have to be there, but not necessarily together.

Exact phrase: looks for exactly the phrase you type. Spinal cord injury will look for those three words together, in that order.

At least one: looks for one or more of the words you type. It’s an “or” search: Spinal OR cord OR injury.

Without: removes any records from your search results with the words you type. If you are looking for research on brain injury, but not traumatic brain injury, adding traumatic to this field will take out any records you may not be interested in.

The next four blanks let you look in specific fields: Title, authors, abstract, descriptors, year of publication, and NIDRR grant number.

A “fine needle”

Sometimes, the goal of the search is so specific, it’s hard to find the exact piece of information you need. In that case, we expand our search. For example, a patron may be looking for research on a specific or rare disorder – like Trisomy 18, a developmental disability. We have very few items in our collection on this specific disability (14 abstracts). However, Trisomy 18 is a developmental disability with a genetic component. We could expand our search to DEVELOPMENTAL and GENETIC which results in more than 70 abstracts. Many will be about other conditions (such as Down syndrome and autism) but the patron now has a greater pool of research to pull from.

A “giant haystack”

Let’s say your researching spinal cord injury and employment. Both are pretty broad concepts which could result in a mountain of abstracts to wade through.

Searching all the words: Employment Spinal Cord = 354 citations

By adding search terms, you can narrow the results to more manageable levels. Here we might work with the patron to focus his or her search by

Selecting a range of years from 2010 to 2015 = 85 citations

Adding another term related to the project such as VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION in the “exact phrase” box = 80 citations

We could use without to remove certain abstracts. Let’s say the researchers wanted articles about spinal cord injury and employment, but was not interested in vocational rehabilitation. We can put VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION in the without these words field and narrow it to 70 abstracts

Lastly, we could use the individual field search to look for articles from a specific author like Paul Wehman (13 abstract)

Finally, patrons can narrow their search results further by using the “detailed report and export options” feature.  For example, for the previous search on VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION  in the “exact phrase” box = 80 citations the patron can select the “detailed report and export options” feature on the upper right.  The detailed report page provides patrons with the full citation (including the abstract), additional information such as if the document is available through NARICs Document Delivery Service, the option to narrow results further by selecting specific citations of interest (show only checked items), create a bibliography, and/or export results into an Excel spreadsheet.

These are just a few examples of how you can use the advanced search function to expand or narrow your search in the REHABDATA database. As always, our information specialists are available Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30 pm to assist!

About cgraves34

Media Specialist for the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) through Administration for Community Living (ACL) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
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2 Responses to Tips from NARIC on Perfecting your Database and Online Search Strategies: REHABDATA Advanced Search Functions

  1. Pingback: More for May: Healthy Vision and Better Hearing and Speech | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

  2. Pingback: Mental Health Month Focuses on Early Screening and Intervention | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

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