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«KNOWLEDGE FOR LIFE Contents The CAB Direct Home Page Search techniques Word-Stemming and Truncation Phrase Searching Linking Search ...»

CABI Training Materials

CAB Direct

Simple Searching of CAB Abstracts




The CAB Direct Home Page

Search techniques

Word-Stemming and Truncation

Phrase Searching

Linking Search Terms with "Boolean Operators"

Multiple Boolean Operators

Search Results

Refining Search Results

Outputting Records



Download as MARC records

Search History:


The CAB Direct Home Page This is the CAB Direct Home Page, offering a simple, “Google like” search box, plus links to the CAB Thesaurus and “MyCABDirect”. This search screen allows users to perform simple, single or multi-word searches. As with

a Google search, users can use Natural Language, as in the example below:

The housing of cattle in Europe In a Natural Language search, the system will automatically select just the important words, in this case, Housing, Cattle and Europe, and will ignore all the other, irrelevant terms. The search is performed by clicking the green button, when the selected terms will be searched with an “invisible” AND between them. The resulting list of records will contain all three keywords.

The same search can also be performed by simply typing in the individual

search terms or “Keywords”, as they are commonly known, as shown below:

housing cattle europe The terms will be combined with AND, as before, with the same search result.

Search techniques Word-Stemming and Truncation As a default, CAB Direct employs what is known as “word-stemming”. In most cases, this aids searching by finding additional terms with a common stem.

Searching for Housing, for example, searching for Housing will also find House and Houses and Housed. However, like truncation, word-stemming can sometimes find irrelevant records. To turn off word-stemming when searching, simply enclose the search term in double quotes as in "housing".

In most cases, word-stemming removes the need for truncation, but it can still be used. When searching for several words that have the same beginning, or stem, the use of truncation can save time. For unlimited Truncation, use the

asterisk (*), as in the following example:

–  –  –

This will search for words starting with NUTRI and will retrieve NUTRIA, NUTRIENT, NUTRIENTS, NUTRITION, etc.

Phrase Searching Sometimes a user will want to search for a more specific phrase, rather than searching for individual, single words, and combining them with AND. An example might be the search term cattle housing. To specify a phrase search, simply enclose the phrase in double quotation marks, as shown below.

–  –  –

Phrases and single words can be searched in combination, and will be linked with the Boolean operator “AND”, as in the following example.

"cattle housing" europe "animal welfare" This will retrieve records whose indexing contains all three search terms together. Note that, whenever you enter more than one search term, whether it is a single word or a phrase, the system will combine them with AND automatically. However, for clarity you can type the AND’s in either upper or lower case if you wish to as shown below.

"cattle housing" AND europe AND "animal welfare" The other two Boolean Operators are OR and NOT, and can be used to modify or refine your search. You may be interested in research papers about cattle or sheep or horses. If we simply type in the three terms cattle sheep horses, we would retrieve only records that contained all three terms. They would be ANDed together. We would not find any records that simply included just one or two of the terms. This would seriously limit our search.

In this particular example, we want to find records that contain all the words or any of the words.

To do this, we can use the OR operator, as in the following example:

–  –  –

This search will find records that contain either one or more of the three search terms. The OR operator “expands” the search. The search gets larger as you OR more terms together.

The third Boolean Operator is NOT, and can be used to exclude terms from your search. You may be interested in breeding but not genetics. To do this,

use the NOT operator, as shown below:

breeding NOT genetics This search will find all the records containing the word breeding, but will exclude any record that includes the word genetics. The NOT operator will restrict your search, making it smaller. Use the NOT operator with caution, as you may lose relevant records by accident.

Multiple Boolean Operators We have seen how to use each Boolean Operator separately but, in many searches, it is useful to be able to use two or more of these operators together, in a single, complex search statement. Let us imagine that we want to do a search for records about the breeding of sheep or cattle or horses but that we are not interested in papers about genetics. We need to find all the records about cattle or sheep or horses and, from this group, or set of records, we need to find the records that also include the term breeding.

Finally, we need to exclude the records that contain the word genetics. In this

search, we need to use AND, OR and NOT, as shown below:

cattle OR sheep OR horses AND breeding NOT genetics

Before we run the search, there is one more thing that we need to do. We must tell the search system the order in which to do the search. Firstly, we want to find cattle OR sheep OR horses, and then we want to combine this group (or set) of records with the word breeding and, once this second operation has been completed, the final operation is to remove the records containing the word genetics. To specify the order of the search, we use parentheses, or round brackets, to enclose the three, separate operations.

We want the OR operation done first, so we enclose the ORed terms in one

set of brackets, as shown here:

(cattle OR sheep OR horses) AND breeding NOT genetics Now we want to do the AND operation, so we enclose this in a second set of


((cattle OR sheep OR horses) AND breeding) NOT genetics Because the NOT operation is outside both sets of brackets, this will be performed last. We can now click the button and the search will now be performed correctly, in the order in which we want it done.

With a little practice, the use of Boolean Operators, and brackets, can be used to produce complex and precise search statements which will retrieve good, relevant results.

Search Results The results of a search are displayed in a short record format on the "Search results" screen, as shown below. The records are displayed in date order, with the record that has been added to the database most recently, displayed first, at the top of the list. This ensures that you always see the latest records first, which is important if you are running the same search on a regular basis.

There is also a clickable option to display the records by relevance, with the most relevant record shown first.

On this page, the records are displayed with the Article Title, the Bibliographic Details and a short section of the Abstract. By default, you see 10 records at a time, but the display range can be reset to show up to 100 at a time, from the drop down list, highlighted in the screenshot on the next page.

To view the complete database record either click the record title or the "View Abstract" link, at the bottom of each record. This will take you to the Full record display screen.

Refining Search Results

–  –  –

To view the lists, expand them by clicking on them. Click to expand the list fully, as required. To refine your search, simply click your chosen entry. A new search will be run, which will combine this new entry with your previous search, refining the results to a smaller, more relevant list of records.

In the following screenshot, we have Refined our original search for "Cattle Housing" to the Geographic Location, USA.

Outputting Records Once you have completed your search, you will want to print or export the results. There are four basic output options, available in the orange box

marked. These are:

–  –  –

The Marked records will be added to a temporary Marked List. This list can be output immediately or added to throughout the current search session.

The Marked list will build, as you add extra records during the current search session. Before outputting the Marked records, you can view the complete Marked List by clicking on Marked records at the top of the orange Tools box.

A Marked List example is shown below:

If required, records can be removed individually, by clicking the star icon, next to the record, or the complete Marked List can be emptied by clicking the Mark None option.

The Marked records can now be output by choosing one of the four options to Print, Email, Export or Download. The first three of these options will offer you the choice of three formats, Citation Only, Citation +


and Full Record.

Email If you choose the Email option, you will also be offered the choice to send the records either as the e-mail text, as an attached Text (txt) file or as an attached HTML file. Once you have made your selection and entered the e-mail address, click the Send email button. Choose the attached Text file if you want to edit the records with a word processor.

Export The Export function allows users to save the records, as an electronic file, which can then be imported into a personal database management system like Procite, EndNote or Reference Manager. These three software packages use the.RIS file format. To download records as a “dot” RIS file, choose the record format that you want and then click on the Export EndNote (RIS) format button, to save the records. If you subscribe to RefWorks, the online Database Management Service, you can directly Export the records into your Refworks database by clicking on the Export to Refworks button.

–  –  –

Search History:

As you search, a History is created, which lists all the searches performed in the current search session. To see this list, simply click on the link in the orange box to the right of the Search Results screen. This will display the Search History screen, as shown below.

This screen shows the searches and the results. You can re-run any of the searches in the list by simply clicking on the search string ("cattle housing", for example). You can also use this screen to combine the results from different searches, to create a new search. In the example, shown above, we might wish to combine all three searches together with AND to retrieve records on the welfare of cattle housing in Europe. To combine searches, simply check the box next to the searches you wish to combine, select the Boolean Operator you wish to use (AND, OR or NOT), and click the Combine button.

A fourth search "set" will be created comprising all the relevant records. Note, this Search History is not saved when you Logout. However, if you wish to save a search, to re-use at a later date, you can do this by signing up to a MyCABDirect account.


If you set up a personal MyCABDirect account, you can personalise the site and make use of some additional, useful features of CAB Direct.

To create a free, MyCABDirect account, simply click the Create a free account link in the grey box to the left of the screen. You will see the following

registration screen:

After you have filled in the details, click the button to create your account. Each time you use CAB Direct, you can Log in to your MyCABDirect account, by clicking the MyCABDirect link and entering your personal username and password. When you have logged into your account, you will be able to Save Search Histories, Save individual database records and set up Automatic Email Alerts and RSS feeds.

If you click the MyCABDirect link, you will be taken to your personalised, MyCABDirect page, where you will see all your temporary searches and your saved searches and records. Here you will also be able to permanently save selected Search Histories, set up e-mail Alerts and RSS feeds and view your Saved records.

From this page, you can also combine searches or rerun searches, simply by clicking on the Search Statement of interest.

The My Saved Records allows you to manage and output saved records.

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