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Last updated on June 18, 2007 | Nederlandse versie | Version française

WebSPIRS: SilverPlatter Information Retrieval System for the World Wide Web - version 5

WebSPIRS is a World Wide Web browser-based retrieval software for databases distributed by the SilverPlatter company.

With WebSPIRS you can access the following databases on the ERL Server of the ITG Library at "http://lib.itg.be":

Remember that the default username "guest" will give access to the catalogs and databases produced by the ITG Library only. In order to get access to all the databases available from the ITG Library ERL Server you need to use other username/password combinations reserved for ITG staff members only (for more information, call the library at tel. "240" or e-mail at "bib@itg.be").

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The following aspects of database searching will be discussed:

In this short manual only the basic functionalities of the WebSPIRS software are dealt with. To obtain more extensive information, consult the <Help> module.

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Start up the system

When you surf towards the ITG Library ERL Database Server at
"http://lib.itg.be:8000/webspirs/start.ws" you will first encounter a Login screen. You can use the default user name ("guest") and password ("guest") and click on the <OK> button. This will give you access to a limited number of databases (i.e. those without licence limitations). In order to get access to all the databases available from the ITG Library ERL Database Server you need to use other username/password combinations, known to ITG staff members only (for information call the library at tel. "240" or email "bib@itg.be").

After logging in a menu listing all available databases (for your particular username/password combination) appears. To get a description of a database click on the button before the menu item. Most databases are represented by a single menu item, but some consist of several sections. All database(section)s can be searched individually as well as in combination with one or more database(section)s of the same group. It is preferable not to mix database(section)s of different groups because of the structural and functional differences. Select the database(section)s of your choice by clicking on the check boxes in front of the menu items. When your selection is complete click on the <Start Searching> button at the right-hand top corner of the menu page.

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Basic commands and help functions


The basic WebSPIRS commands are easy to use. You need only a few commands to successfully search the databases, display and print bibliographic references. Most actions are fairly obvious, as they are represented on the screen by icons, (radio) buttons, selection boxes or data entry boxes. It is important to always make sure your screen is maximized for optimal availability of the buttons and icons.

Although the screen layout differs from WinSPIRS, most of the options are also available in WebSPIRS. Shortcut function keys, however, cannot be used with WebSPIRS.

In the default screen the different search options are presented by tags:

On the right-hand top corner of every screen the help functions are displayed: Other basic commands:

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Search the databases

Basic searching techniques

  • The system retrieves the search terms literally, as they are typed, but does not distinguish between lower and upper case.

  • Don't use diacritics in your search, as these will not be interpreted correctly. Use the corresponding standard characters instead: "e" instead of "è", "é", "ë" or "ê"; "a" instead of "à", "â", "å" or ä; etc.

  • Truncation: WebSPIRS does not feature automatic truncation. Use the symbol "*" if you wish to apply truncation. E.g. "schistosom*" finds "schistosoma", "schistosoma-haematobium", "schistosoma-japonica", "schistosoma-mansoni", "schistosomiases", "schistosomiasis", "schistosomose", etc.
    Take care: using truncation with short strings or popular stems can lengthen retrieval times substantially, as a great number of words need then to be combined. The more specific a search formulation, the faster results are found.

  • Masking: question marks ("?") can be used to replace one or zero characters within a word. In this way "h?ematology" retrieves both "hematology" and "haematology".

  • Remember that in all our databases only English keywords are used. E.g. "tuberculosis" instead of "tuberculose". The same goes for all software elements: commands, prepositions and operators. Currently no other language versions of WebSPIRS are available.

<Search>: default retrieval option

Once inside the database the main search option is displayed by default. You can now type search terms in the long data entry box and click on the <Search> button to retrieve the references. In the bottom (white) half of the frame the system will inform you in how many records this term occurs in the database(s), irrespective of the field(s) it is found in. The records themselves are
displayed immediately.

There are, of course, alternative ways of searching. With a mouse click you can change the default <Anywhere> radio button at the right-hand side of the blue retrieval screen to <in Subject>, <in Title> or <in Author> to limit the search to one of these field types. With the <Limit Search to> options, searches can be limited to other specific field contents like languages and publication years (or ranges of years). While these options are useful for occasional searchers, experienced users may get faster results by typing all necessary operators and field codes directly into the data entry box. Most commands available in WinSPIRS can also be used in WebSPIRS. This, of course, implies that you already know the right syntax and codes. If you don't, the menus and buttons will guide you through your retrieval session, but it may take a little longer as you will need to go through a larger number of screens.

Field-specific retrieval

Webspirs 5 features a field-specific search module, viz. <Advanced>: type a search term in the left-hand data entry box and select a field using the radio button of the corresponding data entry box on the right-hand side. In case you want to combine two search terms, select the appropriate boolean operator check box and repeat the procedure in the bottom data entry set.

However, retrieval can also be limited to specific fields, using the preposition "IN" plus the field code.

  • E.g. "hepatitis IN TI" restricts the occurences of the word "hepatitis" to the title field only.
  • E.g. "malaria IN KW" restricts the occurences of the word "malaria" to the keywords field only.

Searching for authors

  • The easiest way to search for specific author names is to type them in the data entry box and to select <in Author>" by way of the radio button on the right-hand side of the screen (<Search> & <Advanced>).

  • In command mode the same can be done as follows: Add the preposition "IN" and the field code "AU" (Author) to the search term. E.g. "finegold IN AU".
    Generally author names consist of last name and one or more initials, both groups separated by a hyphen ("-"). E.g. "Harrison-TWA". Author names with more elements have more than one hyphen. E.g. "Van-der-Stuyft-P" or "Garcia-Lopez-C".

  • Use the alphabetic "(Browsable) Author" <Index>. This may draw your attention to unexpected initials variations. No matter how certain you may be of an author's name, many are not true to one format. Chances are that "Robert A. Smith" has published the paper you are looking for as "Smith-R" or "Smith-RAT". Don't forget to use the hyphens.

  • During (full record) display, author names will be in blue color and underlined. As such, they are hyperlinked and can automatically be added to the searches by simply clicking on them.

Searching for journals names or abbreviations

  • Add the preposition "IN" and the field codes "JN", "JA" or "SO" (Source) to the search term. Don't forget to use the hyphens. E.g. "N-Engl-J-Med IN SO".

    Take care: different databases may use different codes and field names for journal names and abbreviations. One of the following should give satisfying results:

    • JN: Journal name.
    • JA: Journal abbreviation (Index Medicus style).
    • SO: Source = Journal abbreviation + Year of publication + Volume + Issue + Pages cited.

  • Use the alphabetic "Journal name" or "Journal abbreviation" <Index>. Again, this may draw your attention to unexpected formats.

  • During (full record) display, journal names will be in blue color and underlined. As such, they are hyperlinked and can automatically be added to the searches by simply clicking on them.

When a specific journal is available in the local library, this is indicated explicitly in the bibliographic record. The SilverPlatter logo in front of the bibliographic reference serves as a preliminary indication. Clicking on "check full text availability" provides more detailed information and will allow you to compare "Source" details, e.g. publication year or volume with the ITG library collection specifics.

Searching for keywords

  • The easiest way to search for words defining a subject is to type them in the data entry box and to select <in Subject> by way of the radio button on the right-hand side of the screen (<Search> & <Advanced>).

  • In command mode keywords can be searched as follows: add the preposition "IN" and the database-specific subject field code to the search term:
    • ITG Library databases: use KW (Keywords). E.g. "tuberculosis IN KW".
    • CABI: use SU (subject headings), DE (descriptors), OD (organism descriptors) or GE (geographic names). E.g. "schistosomiasis IN DE", "mali IN GE".

  • During (full record) display, keywords will be in blue color and underlined. As such, they are hyperlinked and can automatically be added to the searches by simply clicking on them.

Attention:

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<Thesaurus>: using the hierarchical keyword structure:

The thesaurus is a controlled hierarchical structure defining the keywords and their mutual relations. Accessing the thesaurus is a step by step procedure:
  • After typing a term in the data entry box and clicking on the <Go To Term> button, the system first displays an alphabetical list of related permuted <Subject Headings>, starting with the thesaurus item closest to the term you entered. At this stage automatic truncation and mapping are active.

  • From this list one can switch to the hierarchical keyword structure by clicking on a chosen hyperlinked, therefore blue color, underlined term. The resulting frame displays more information about the selected subject heading, e.g. a definition, synonyms, related terms. If available, more specific (narrower) as well as less specific (broader) terms are displayed below. One can navigate to higher or lower levels by just clicking on them.

  • When subjects feature one or more narrower "subdivisions" one can choose to retrieve only an individual subject (<Search Marked>) or to retrieve both the subject term and all hierarchically lower level items (<Explode Marked>). E.g. "explode africa, western" = "africa, western + benin + burkina faso + cote d'ivoire + gambia + ghana + guinea + guinea-bissau + liberia + ... ", etc.

  • In the last step an opportunity is provided to select subheadings: e.g. "epidemiology", "drug therapy". Subheadings make the keywords far more specific, but using them increases the risk of missing articles which may also be relevant. Therefore it may be better to respect the <ALL SUBHEADINGS> default and afterwards limit the results while viewing the whole set (using the check boxes to select individual records) or by adding and combining with additional search terms.

Attention:

  • Individual thesaurus terms may have been recently adopted. Using them with older database sections may therefore fail to yield results.

  • The ITG Library databases do not feature a thesaurus.

  • When different databases are selected simultaneously, the <Thesaurus> button may become inactivated, even if several of the databases do have a thesaurus module.

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<Index>: searching via alphabetical index

Select the <Index> tag. By default the <General Index> is presented, comprising most of the 'data' fields like "Title", "Author", "Publisher", "Keywords", "Abstract", etc. Typing a term in the data entry box and clicking on <Go To Term> will result in an alphabetical list of indexed terms or strings, and indicates in how many records each term is used within the database ("hits").

Simply clicking on a term from this list is the easiest way to select it and start the actual searching. Select several terms at once by ticking off the checkboxes in front of the terms and clicking on "Search Marked".

Using the <Index> module has the advantage that your attention is automatically drawn to different ways of spelling or alphabetically closely related alternatives.

With the radio button alternative field-specific indexes can be accessed (e.g. "Language", "Publication year", "Journal name", etc.

Take care: different databases may feature different selections of field-specific indexes.

Use the <Index> module for a database specific list of fields and their letter codes. Use these letter codes to specify fields, or select index terms directly.

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Combining search terms

  • <Search History>: retrieving and combining previous searches.
    • Each search request will be kept until the end of the session and can be viewed in the <Search History>. When more than one database(section) is selected the individual results for each database(section) are listed. These results can be recuperated afterwards from the <Search History> screen for renewed display or for making combinations.

    • Check off the appropriate boxes in front of the different sets and combine them by clicking on the boolean operator buttons <and> or <or> in the yellow bar. The results of this procedure are presented in a new set.
    • Clicking on the appropriate button will display these results.

    • An alternative method is typing the numbers preceding the wanted sets in the data entry box and combine them. That way more complex combinations can be made (cfr. combinations in command mode). Be sure to include the "#" symbol (use the <Alt Gr> key), otherwise the cardinal number itself is searched, not the set with that number. E.g. "(#1 or #6) and (#3 or #5).

  • Different search terms (or search sets) can also be combined in command mode:
    • "AND": section: both term1 and term2. E.g. "aids AND tuberculosis".

    • "OR": union: term1 or term2 or both term1 and term2. E.g. "rwanda OR burundi".

    • "NOT": exclusion: term1 but not term2. E.g. "mycobacterium NOT tuberculosis"

    • The following are alternatives for the 'AND' operator, specifying the distance between both terms:
      • "WITH": term1 and term2 appear within the same field.
      • "NEAR": term1 and term2 appear within the same sentence.
      • "NEAR3": term1 and term2 appear within the same sentence, but with a maximum of 3 words apart. Obviously, other numbers can be specified, e.g. 'NEAR2", "NEAR5", etc.
      • No operator is used: when 2 or more terms are entered without an operator (e.g. "viral diseases"), the system not only looks for references in which both words appear (cf. "AND"), but also verifies whether they appear one immediately after the other, irrespective of internal order. This relation is much closer than " AND" and equivalent to "NEAR2".

    • Obviously, more than two terms can be combined. Be sure to use brackets to specify the correct relationships. The following search requests give quite different results, the second being the most sensible.
      • "malaria OR cholera AND rwanda OR burundi"
      • "(malaria OR cholera) AND (rwanda OR burundi)"
      • "malaria OR (cholera AND rwanda) OR burundi"

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    Limiting retrieval results

    With this function you can, similarly as in field specific retrieval, limit the search to certain "values". Typical 'limit' fields are "Language" and "Publication year".

    • As explained above, see: (<Search>), a few obvious options can easily be selected by simply clicking in the check boxes on the right-hand side of the <Search> screen.

    • A complete range of 'limit' fields becomes available by clicking on the <Change> button at the right-hand top of that same screen. Choose a field from the list on the left, proceed on the right-hand side to set one or multiple value(s). Validate your choice by clicking on <OK>.

      Attention: don't forget to clear the limits when they are no longer needed.

    • Using the command mode these (and other) limit-field specifications can be typed into the data entry box. The field codes can be entered before as well as after the search terms. Examples:

    Limit to publication years

    • E.g. "malaria AND vietnam AND PY=2005"
      or: "malaria AND vietnam AND 2005 IN PY"
    • E.g. "ebola AND PY>1999"
    • E.g. "schistosomiasis AND PY=2003-2007"

    Limit to language of publication

    • E.g. "(aids OR hiv) AND rwanda AND LA=FRENCH"
      or: "(aids OR hiv) AND rwanda AND FRENCH IN LA"

    Limit to publication type

    • E.g. "leprosy IN KW AND PT=BOOK"
      or: "leprosy IN KW AND BOOK IN PT"
    • E.g. "cholera AND ecuador NOT PT=LETTER"
      or: "cholera AND ecuador NOT LETTER IN PT"

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    <Display Records>: viewing records and evaluating search results

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    <Print> records

    • After selecting the records, click on the icon on the WebSPIRS page (not the <Print> button or the <File> menu of the Web browser).
    • Select the options offered: records to print, fields to print, include search histories, include record numbers, etc. [sorting records and selecting only locally held titles are apparently only available in display mode, and should be applied before printing.]
    • Click the <Print Records> button: this will give you a screen preview of the eventual outprint.
    • Print this preview with the <Print> command of your Web browser.

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    <Save>: download records

    This is very much like printing records.
    • After selecting the records, click on the icon on the WebSPIRS page (not the <Save> menu item of your Web browser).
    • Select the options offered: records to save, fields to save, include search histories, include record numbers, etc. [sorting records and selecting only locally held titles are apparently only available in display mode, and should be applied before downloading.]
    • Click the <Save Records> button.
    • Specify filename and path.

    Alternative: <E-mail> records; (to yourself or somebody else). This closely resembles the <Save> procedure, but adds the specification of E-mail address and subject label.

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    Changing databases

    • To change databases or sections: click on the <Change> (selected databases) button, after which the database menu will reappear. Select one or more databases or sections by clicking on the check boxes in front of them, then click on <Start Searching>.
      Take care: if you don't unmark previously selected databases, these will remain part of the new database selection.

    • As long as one does not leave the system, search formulations used on previous sections or databases can be used. Take care: search sets refering to the thesaurus may not always function properly with other sections or databases.

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    Leaving the system

    To quit the system, please click on the <Logout> button and close the active Web browser window.


    Related pages:
    What are bibliographic records and databases? | International databases subscribed to by the ITG library | Electronic catalogs of the ITG library collections | Databases produced by the ITG library | Page author: Dirk Schoonbaert
    ITG library home page eBooks Journals Electronic journals Databases WebSPIRS Internet links ITG home page