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DATABASES: DATABANKS AND SEARCH SERVICE PROVIDERS : DATABASE: SEARCHING TECHNIQUES: EBSCO: Customer Service Past and Present and Learning Better Ways to Use EBSCO

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  • David P. Dillard
    DATABASES: DATABANKS AND SEARCH SERVICE PROVIDERS : DATABASE: SEARCHING TECHNIQUES: EBSCO: Customer Service Past and Present and Learning Better Ways to Use
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2006
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      DATABASES: DATABANKS AND SEARCH SERVICE PROVIDERS :
      DATABASE: SEARCHING TECHNIQUES:
      EBSCO: Customer Service Past and Present and Learning Better Ways to Use
      EBSCO


      The EBSCO database searching system has been a relatively recent addition
      to the databanks available to database consumers for accessing a number of
      important and widely used databases. From the inception of availability
      to me of this databank, first through public library provision of these
      databases and more recently, a number of years ago the use of this system
      in academic library database access. From the beginning I had problems
      with the way this system worked and in those early years could not get any
      explanations or movement to change from the EBSCO customer service
      representatives at the time I called when EBSCO was new to us.

      The version of EBSCO we have used, I now have learned there are various
      versions of EBSCO interfaces, has a starting web page that shows a series
      of boxes and the option of using these boxes to combine various words in
      each or phrases with Boolean operators. I have been using this interface
      and having many problems with search combinations such as wanting words or
      phrases to be found in both in subject heading and title when placing the
      entire search in one of these boxes.

      Recently, without mentioning the system involved, I posted the following
      message to a specialized discussion group:

      ------------------------------------------------------

      This search was conducted in a databank commonly used by medical
      institutions and libraries for medical searching and soon, I suspect to be
      more. The search has been repeated over a period of time. Proper
      positional operators were employed in the search to maintain the word
      order used and the final step was a combination of two steps with the and
      boolean operator. Truncation was not employed as this system and another
      that I commonly use do not handle truncation well in my experience.

      Step One

      (gay marriage) or (gay marriages)
      Result 1869

      Step Two

      Limit step one to title
      Result 541

      Step Three

      Limit step one to subject
      Result 25

      Step Four

      Combine step two and three with the Boolean operator and
      Result 320

      This combination was made using the appropriate step symbol before the
      step number for each of the two steps combined.

      I will appreciate any explanations regarding what I may be doing
      incorrectly.

      ------------------------------------------------------

      I was very frustrated and not expecting much to happen. I was dead wrong.
      One respondent wanted to know which system was being exemplified and I
      told this respondent privately that it was EBSCO and received the return
      advice that I contact them, this due to past experiences was not one of my
      primary choices. It, however, did not have to be. Things at EBSCO seem
      to have changed. I posted this message in the early morning and around
      four o'clock the same day, even though my post did not mention EBSCO, I
      got a telephone call from them.

      Christopher Terlizzi of EBSCO asked if I was David Dillard and then
      proceeded to find what my problems were, what interface I was using in
      great detail including details about how our server reached EBSCO.
      Christopher told me he needed to investigate the problem and spent about
      six hours on it before calling me back the next day.

      The reason I am sharing all of this is because there are better ways of
      accessing EBSCO that will prevent the need to use very bit by bit
      searching in the dialog boxes with drop down menus version of EBSCO.

      Indeed I heard the next day about another EBSCO search interface and tried
      it and found that it solved most of my searching problems. Unknown to me
      and I suspect others in the box with drop down menus interface, one cannot
      enter parentheses or Boolean operators (and, or, not) in the search
      statement without combination problems down the road in future related
      search steps, like finding more documents that are in both step A and in
      step B in a search asking that the document be in both A and B than are
      found in A by itself or in B by itself as in the search example above.

      The solution is the EBSCO find line search. But one nagging problem
      remained, frequently, particularly in searches using multiple databases,
      the subject search of words and phrases produced a null result. Title
      searching was fine.

      Title search

      ti (books or magazines or publications or (reading w1 materials)

      produced an appropriate result.

      su (books or magazines or publications or (reading w1 materials)

      The solution was that su needed to be distributed as a field limiter in
      front of every word or phrase, unlike the title limitation.

      Consider these search steps which in EBSCO put the most recent search step
      at the top.

      S4
      s2 and s3
      Interface - EBSCOhost
      Search Screen - Advanced
      Database - Academic Search Premier; Book Review Digest; ERIC; Library
      Literature & Information Science; Library, Information Science &
      Technology Abstracts; MLA International Bibliography; General Science
      Abstracts; PsycARTICLES; PsycINFO; Education Abstracts; Humanities
      Abstracts; ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials; SPORTDiscus

      353520 Revise


      S3 (su social or su sociology or su political or su history or su
      historical or su religion or su science or (su social w1 science*))

      Interface - EBSCOhost
      Search Screen - Advanced
      Database - Academic Search Premier; Book Review Digest; ERIC; Library
      Literature & Information Science; Library, Information Science &
      Technology Abstracts; MLA International Bibliography; General Science
      Abstracts; PsycARTICLES; PsycINFO; Education Abstracts; Humanities
      Abstracts; ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials; SPORTDiscus 1741775
      Revise

      S2 ti (social or sociology or political or history or historical or
      religion or science or (social w1 science*))

      Interface - EBSCOhost
      Search Screen - Advanced
      Database - Academic Search Premier; Book Review Digest; ERIC; Library
      Literature & Information Science; Library, Information Science &
      Technology Abstracts; MLA International Bibliography; General Science
      Abstracts; PsycARTICLES; PsycINFO; Education Abstracts; Humanities
      Abstracts; ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials; SPORTDiscus 787916
      Revise


      S1 social or sociology or political or history or historical or religion
      or science or (social w1 science*)

      Interface - EBSCOhost
      Search Screen - Advanced
      Database - Academic Search Premier; Book Review Digest; ERIC; Library
      Literature & Information Science; Library, Information Science &
      Technology Abstracts; MLA International Bibliography; General Science
      Abstracts; PsycARTICLES; PsycINFO; Education Abstracts; Humanities
      Abstracts; ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials; SPORTDiscus 5245046
      Revise


      Problems uncovered by this most productive interaction with Christopher
      included a much better version of the EBSCO interface than was
      institutionally available to me
      and some tools to use to make searching effective where expected search
      techniques were not working. EBSCO
      institutional subscribers who do not have the Find Line or
      Guided Find Line search interfaces should look into making one or both of
      these interfaces available to their users.

      EBSCO
      <http://www.ebsco.com/home/>

      EBSCO Databases
      <http://www.epnet.com/>

      EBSCO Database List
      <http://www.epnet.com/titleLists.php?topicID=
      380&tabForward=titleLists&marketID=>

      A shorter URL for the above link:

      <http://snipurl.com/ngfe>

      To say that I am a much happier camper in my use of EBSCO databases these
      days is a very mild understatement. That I would like to see some of the
      additional features found in services like OVID, CSA and DIALOG like the
      ability to nest words and phrases on either or both sides of a positional
      operator are matters I would like to see happen in the future to increase
      my newly found ecstasy in using EBSCO with better results.

      OVID
      <http://www.ovid.com/site/index.jsp>

      DIALOG
      <http://www.dialog.com/>

      Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA)
      <http://www.csa.com/>

      Here is a message that I received from Chris Terlizzi that explains some
      of the issues we discussed perhaps better than I have and it is reproduced
      with his permission.

      ==================================================

      Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 13:58:17 -0500
      From: Christopher Terlizzi <ChristopherTerlizzi@...>
      To: "'jwne@...'" <jwne@...>
      Subject: ***** Recap of EBSCO advanced searching

      Good Afternoon David,

      It's been a pleasure speaking with you the past couple of days, and I'm
      glad that we had the opportunity to research some of the underlying
      problems regarding advanced searching strategy on EBSCOhost.

      As I had mentioned, market analysis/customer feedback resulted in
      EBSCOhost moving away from the three different search screens that we
      offered in years past. The three search screens that we use to offer were
      Basic, Guided, and Advanced screens/tabs...here's a quick description of
      the three:

      * Basic: single search field with minimal limiters/expanders visible, and
      no access to 'Search History' screen. Designed for quick/limited searching

      * Guided: offered multiple search fields as well as drop-down lists where
      you can choose to narrow search to specific fields, as well as drop-down
      lists to select/apply AND, OR, NOT operators in between search fields.
      Designed to allow more focused searching than the Basic search, and
      allowed access to 'Search History' screen

      * Advanced: single search field with several limiters/expanders visible,
      allowed access to 'Search History' screen. Although you can still use
      advanced search parameters in the Basic search, such as field codes,
      boolean operators, nesting, truncation and proximity...it's typically in
      this Advanced search screen where the power researchers performed that
      type of searching strategy.

      Over time we also created what we now call 'Single Find with Search
      Builder', which is almost like a hybrid of the Advanced and Guided Styles.
      In an effort to 'tidy-up' our interface yet still offer all four search
      screens, we made the decision--again based on customer feedback--to offer
      two types of Search screens on our interface, a Basic and Advanced. The
      way that we now offer (I say now, but this is what's been in place for a
      few years now) access to Guided Style, Single Find, and Single Find with
      Search Builder is by a setting within EBSCO's Administrative Module
      (EBSCOadmin) that designates which Advanced Search screen to display.

      The majority of our customers utilize the Guided Style, which is what
      Temple uses as well, but Guided Style is somewhat limited in that you have
      to use the drop-down lists if you want to utilize boolean operators and
      field codes, you cannot manually type them in the find fields if you want
      accurate results. For the type of power searching that you are accustomed
      to conducting, we recommend using the Single Find, and you might also try
      out the Search Builder as well. In order to use the additional types of
      Advanced Search options I need to create two additional 'profiles' under
      your EBSCOadmin account, which Brian has approved of. This suggestion
      could be made to other EBSCOhost customers that you know of that may have
      felt limited or irritated by the results they got when conducting heavy
      research with the Guided Style search screen. These additional profiles
      will contain all of your EBSCOhost databases, but the Advanced Search
      screen will differ, allowing access to whichever one you like the best.
      It's important to consider that EBSCO provides service to many different
      customers in several disciplines, and that we offer many different
      configurations and options to suit different needs; so if customers feel
      frustrated with our service there may just be a few setting changes which
      we can easily make, that may fix the 'problem', just contact us to see if
      we can help.

      I will provide Brian with the necessary URLs/links for the new profiles,
      to incorporate into the facility which you use to access EBSCOhost. You
      will also be able to find the new profiles by clicking on the EBSCOhost
      tab that reads "Select another EBSCO Service".

      We also talked about concerns that you had with truncation. Our truncation
      options have undergone updates, which has resulted in improved results.
      As we saw yesterday, interchanging plurals with an asterisk yielded
      expected results.

      I am very pleased that we had the opportunity to look at these issues, and
      I am looking into another which you had brought up as well, regarding and
      error message that you get. It will be helpful if you can try to capture a
      print screen the next time that it happens, and give me a call back when
      it occurs, there are a few tests we can try.

      I also want you to know that we highly regard customer feedback, and based
      on your request for a more powerful type of nesting, I am submitting an
      enhancement request for our developers to explore. One good example of an
      enhancement request that we recently honored is the ability to access the
      Search History tab from the Basic Search screen, there is a setting in
      Admin which I can change that will allow that now.

      In closing, I am providing the following links from our Support Site that
      point out some upcoming changes/features with our interface that you might
      already be aware of:


      Support Site homepage:
      http://support.epnet.com/custsupport/Customer/Search.aspx


      Upcoming Software Enhancements:
      http://support.epnet.com/support_news/detail.php?id=186



      Best Regards,
      Chris Terlizzi, MCP
      EBSCO Publishing
      Customer Account Specialist
      800.653.2726 x616
      cterlizzi@...
      http://www.ebscoweb.com


      ==================================================

      I cannot thank Chris Terlizzi enough for getting me to effective ways of
      using EBSCO searching services and databases.



      Sincerely,
      David Dillard
      Temple University
      (215) 204 - 4584
      jwne@...
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