Understanding professional use of complex search strategies

Do you find yourself at work staring at a jumble of text like this:

((((curtiss) NOT (curtis))) OR (((curtiss-* OR ~Curtiss-Wright* OR
curtiss NEAR/1 wright*) AND ((model* OR monoplane*) NOT (prototype*)))))

If you are, we suspect you’re writing a complex query as part of a sophisticated search strategy and we would like to find out more about what you do.

UXLabs has been granted funding from InnovateUK to investigate the use of complex search strategies in the workplace, with the aim of producing requirements for the design of next generation search tools. By collaborating in this research we can help make creating and refining your complex search queries easier and more efficient.

We are interviewing professionals from the following sectors:

  • Recruitment
  • Media monitoring and competitive intelligence
  • Science, technology & medicine
  • Patent analysis and legal
  • Library and Information science

If you can spare 30-40 minutes of your time to discuss (and ideally demonstrate) the practical challenges that professionals face in formulating complex search strategies then please get in touch at jchamb AT essex.ac.uk.

Complex search strategies can include Boolean queries, such as the example at the beginning of the page, but also incremental, line-by-line strategies like this:

1 Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/
2 adhd
3 addh
4 adhs
5 hyperactiv$
6 hyperkin$
7 attention deficit$
8 brain dysfunction
9 or/1-8
10 Child/
11 Adolescent/
12 child$ or boy$ or girl$ or schoolchild$ or adolescen$ or teen$ or
“young person$” or “young people$” or youth$
13 or/10-12
14 acupuncture therapy/or acupuncture, ear/or electroacupuncture/
15 accupunct$
16 or/14-15
17 9 and 13 and 16

and fielded queries (e.g. combining keywords with controlled terms) like this:

("etiology"[Subheading] OR "etiology"[All Fields] OR "causes"[All Fields] OR
"causality"[MeSH Terms] OR "causality"[All Fields])AND ("somnambulism"[MeSH Terms]
OR "somnambulism"[All Fields] OR ("sleep"[All Fields] AND "walking"[All Fields]) OR
"sleep walking"[All Fields])

Find out more about the research here:

About Jon Chamberlain
Jon Chamberlain

Research at the University of Essex and UXLabs with an interest in social networks, collective intelligence, search strategies and biotechnology.