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Getting the Numbers Down November 7, 2011

Posted by Paul Williams in All Subjects, Summon.
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Any of you who have already tried out our Summon service will have noticed just how many journal articles, books, ebooks, conference papers (I could go on) that  we provide. Try a really generic search like “history” and your results will be in the millions. It’s a great problem to have, not many people make their searches quite so wide and the relevancy ranking in Summon will help to bring the more useful items to the top of the results screen if the user is a little more specific!

That said, there are times when you might want to try to reduce the number of hits which Summon provides so I’ve included a couple of tips here.

1. If you are searching for a phrase (like lesson planning for example), use quotes. This is a trick I picked up years ago with Google and it makes your search much more accurate. In Summon, searching for lesson planning (without quotes) gives you 173,437 hits, but adding the quotes (“lesson planning”) brings that down to 2,610. The difference is that it is only looking for places where those words appear together.

2. Make use of the options on the left of your results screen. You have lots of choices, like removing newspaper articles if they aren’t what you need, or limiting to items written in the last 2 or 3 years. You can remove certain formats, such as newsletters, or only show articles which appear in peer-reviewed journals. Lots of options – give them a try.

So, as ever, keep letting us know what you think of Summon and if you have any questions at all you can use Summon’s feedback link, add a comment to this post or email us at askalibrarian@worc.ac.uk.

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