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Full-Text Searching Tutorial: Advanced Searching

Other Searches

Restricting Searches

Book Bag

Interpreting Search Results

[or, go back to the Basic Searching Tutorial ]



Other Searches

(Note: Be sure to make any text selections for restricted searches before going to the Other Searches screen.)

Region Search

To do a Region Search:
  • Enter the word or phrase you wish to search for, as in the Simple Search.
  • Choose a region (i.e., a structural element common to the texts of the database) for searching.
    • The selection of search regions depends on the type of texts which make up the database:
      • Collections of poetry are likely to offer poems, stanzas, and first lines as searchable regions;
      • Collections of drama will offer acts and scenes;
      • Collections of prose will offer books, chapters or paragraphs.
    • Regions obviously vary in specificity:
      • Searching within scenes in a drama database is very general,
        and will probably result in every occurrence of a word except
        when it is within notes, stage directions or front matter.
      • Some databases offer very specific searchable regions
        based not only on structural elements, but also on considerations of genre or authorship,
        for example "Poem by Female Author" or "Epistolary Fiction."
  • Click on the Search button.

Boolean Search

To do a Boolean Search:
  • Enter the words or phrases you wish to search for, as in a Simple Search.
  • Select a Boolean operator:
    • AND will return all occurrences in which both words appear.
    • OR will return all occurrences in which either word appears.
    • BUT NOT will return all occurrences in which the first word appears,
      except those in which the second word also appears.
  • Choose a region, as in Region Search above, in which the two search expressions should be sought.
  • Click on the Search button.

Proximity Search

To do a Proximity Search:
  • Enter the words or phrases you wish to search for, as in a Simple Search.
  • Select a proximity operator:
    • Near returns all instances where both words or phrases occur within a specified range of each other.
    • Not near returns all instances where the first word occurs without the second.
    • Followed by is like near, but returns only instances
      where the second word or phrase comes after the first.
    • Not followed by is like not near, but excludes only instances
      where the second word or phrase comes after the first.
    • There are no "before" operators, since "before"-type results can be achieved
      by reversing the order of the two search expressions.
  • Choose a range, expressed in number of characters,
    within which the two search expressions should be sought.
  • Click on the Search button.
    • Note that occasionally a Proximity Search can return a match
      in which the two search expressions occur in adjacent but distinct structural elements.
      This means that when you view the fuller context of a Proximity Search match,
      one of the search expressions may be missing.

Special Searches for Drama

Speech Search

This search allows you to search for a word or phrase in speeches of selected characters, for example, to answer questions like: "Who mentions power more, King Richard II or King Richard III?"

To do a Speech Search:

  • Enter the word or phrase you wish to search for.
    • Note that if you enter a word not followed by a space, then it will be treated as a prefix (i.e., searching for the word "power" will return all occurrences of the word "power," as well as "powerful," "powerless," "powers," etc.).
    • If the word or phrase is followed by a space, then only occurences of that word (or of phrases ending with precisely the final word of the search phrase) will be returned.
  • Enter a search expression for the name of the character whose speeches you wish to search.
    • Select one of the logical operators with which to search the character's name: contains / doesn't contain, starts / ends with, or is / is not.
    • Enter the name (or portion of the name) of the character you wish to search (or exclude).
  • Click on the Search button.

Boolean/Speech Search

This search allows you to search for two words or phrases in the speech of selected characters, for example, to answer questions like: "Does Romeo mention love and death in the same speech? Does Juliet?"

To do a Boolean/Speech Search:

  • Enter the words or phrases you wish to search for.
    • Note that if you enter a word not followed by a space, then it will be treated as a prefix (i.e., searching for the word "love" will return all occurrences of the word "love, " as well as "lover," "lovely," "loveless," etc.).
    • If the word or phrase is followed by a space, then only occurences of that word (or of phrases ending with precisely the final word of the search phrase) will be returned.
  • Select a Boolean operator:
    • AND will return all occurrences in which both words app ear.
    • OR will return all occurrences in which either word appears .
    • BUT NOT will return all occurrences in which the first word appears, except those in which the second word also appears.
  • Enter a search expression for the name of the character whose speeches you wish to search.
    • Select one of the logical operators with which to search the character's name: contains / doesn't contain, starts / ends with, or is / is not.
    • Enter the name (or portion of the name) of the character you wish to search (or exclude).
  • Click on the Search button.
[ To the Top  ||  Back to the Basic Searching Tutorial ]

Restricting Searches

Depending on the present display, you may have the option
to restrict your search to some portion of the database.
  • If there is a Table of Contents displayed, or if the Book Bag has something in it,
    then the Search form offers the following choice:
  • Example: 
    Within entire database  Within checked items (book bag and table of contents) 
    Electronic Version of The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
    Electronic Version of The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
    • (If this selection is not available, try going to a Table of Contents screen as outlined above.)
  • Select "Within entire database" to search all the texts in the database.
  • Select "Within checked items (book bag and table of contents)",
    and check the boxes next to the desired texts, authors, or other parts of the database,
    in order to restrict the search.
Note that if you wish to do a restricted search using a different search type than that which is offered,
the selection of "Within entire database" or "Within checked items" should be made
before advancing to the "Other Searches" screen.
 


Using the Book Bag

By default, searches are performed on the entire database.
The Book Bag is where you gather chunks of a database
(for example, single authors, works or time periods) for restricted searching.
  • Using the checkboxes located next to each table of contents item,
    select those items which you wish to include in your search.
    Example:
    Electronic Version of Hamlet
  • Although these items will appear in the Book Bag
    only after this Search Form is submitted,
    the search will be restricted to all the checked items
    provided that the "Within checked items" option
    is selected on the Search Form.
  • Note that the Book Bag will contain only the phrase "The book bag is empty"
    until after the first such restricted search is performed.

It is possible to restrict your search to any number of chunks (e.g., authors, texts, time periods).
The Book Bag, along with any Table of Contents items marked since the last search,
indicate which parts of the database will be subject to the present search.

The contents of the book bag, as well as the option to search over the entire database,
may be changed from any screen which displays a Table of Contents.


If there is no Table of Contents displayed,
for example, if you have come to the present search screen from a set of previous search results
or from a text browse, then the choice of restricted/full-database search is not offered.
  • If you do wish to change the scope of your next restricted search, do one of the following:
    • Simple method: Use your browser's Back button to return to some previous Table of Contents display,
      then proceed with the text selection as outlined above; or
    • More involved method (which keeps you close to at least some of your previous search results):
      If you have one-line search results displayed, choose one of the results to view
      by clicking on the numbered button next to it.


    • Example:
      The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Scene II.2
        ..rd? Hamlet Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked ou..
        ..e last. Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark? -- What, my young lady and mistress...
      The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Scene III.1
        ..and Polonius Hamlet To be, or not to be; that is the question: Whether 'tis nobl..
        ..amlet To be, or not to be; that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind..
      This will take you to some extended context display, such as follows:
          Example: 

            Location:

          Oxford Shakespeare

            Electronic Version of The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark

              Act III

                Scene III.1

      From here, choose whichever structural level of the database is of interest to you,
      taking you back to an appropriate Table of Contents screen, where you can
      make your text selection and Book Bag change as desired.

[ To the Top  ||  Back to the Basic Searching Tutorial ]

Interpreting Search Results

Not Enough Matches

Occasionally a search will result in no, or not enough, matches.
In this case, some of the following alternative search strategies may be appropriate:

  • Be sure that the appropriate portion of the database is included in your search:
    If you intended to search the entire database,
    make sure that option "Within entire database" is checked;
    otherwise, make sure that the Book Bag contains all the texts you wish to include.

  • Try searching for a shorter phrase, or try your search word as a prefix,
    i.e., enter the search word without a space at the end.
    (See instructions for Simple Search for details.)

  • Try British spellings where they might be appropriate, e.g., for non-American English-language texts.

  • Try archaic spellings where they might be appropriate, e.g., for older texts.

  • Try a different kind of search.
    For example, if an advanced (Boolean, Region, Proximity) searchproduces no results,
    try a Simple Search first, then use the results as a clue for modifying the more complex search.

Too Many Matches

Too many extraneous matches can make it difficult to find the most significant results of your search.
There are several ways to reduce the number of matches:

  • Try a restricted search if you are interested in only a certain number of authors or texts.

  • Try searching for a longer phrase, if appropriate.

  • Search for a word rather than a prefix by adding a space after your search argument(s).
    (See the instructions for Simple Search above).

    • This tactic would have eliminated, in the example above, match #2, "to beard"
      -- which would be an extraneous result if we were really searching
      only for Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" speech.

    • Likewise, the example match of "sunken eyes" in the previous tutorial:
      This match would perhaps be extraneous if we had really wanted to find only
      the famous line, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun."
      This came from a seemingly precise Proximity Search -- "sun" near "eyes,"
      search restricted to the Sonnets -- but "sun" was entered without a trailing space,
      so it was searched as a prefix)

    • Often researchers have found as much of interest among the chaff
      as among the supposed wheat they were seeking.
      Be cautious of narrowing searches too much, and suspicious of all search results.

  • Try a different type of search:
    especially one that allows you to refine the structure in which you search,
    for example, a Region Search,
    or one which includes more context than just the search expression itself,
    for example, a Proximity Search or Boolean Search.


What Next?

We hope that full-text searching of our electronic texts will provide insights
into large bodies of text that would be too unwieldy for such detailed analysis in hard copy.

The uses of electronic scholarship are perhaps almost as varied as those of more traditional scholarship
(indeed, electronic resources are often used to support quite traditional scholarly projects).
Searchable, full-text databases have been used as starting points for for thinking about literature,
as tools for testing a tentative idea about a text, and as sources of evidence to prove a point.

Further Reading. HDIS maintains a set of links to articles and Web resources on the analysis
and delivery of electronic texts
, which may be of interest to people working in this medium.

Citation. There are emerging standards for citing electronic resources in the humanities;
depending on your writing and publication needs, the MLA Guidelines,
which now address the citation of World Wide Web sources, may be a good place to start.
Each textual unit in our databases includes an "About" section near the beginning,
which has bibliographic information about both the original source texts and the current electronic
versions; this information will be important for any citation, as well as for consulting original works.

We hope you enjoy using and learning from these texts, and we appreciate your comments.



[ To the Top   ||  Back to the Basic Searching Tutorial ]

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Last modified: February 12, 2007

   
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