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« CAB Abstracts, FSTA & Zoological Record | Main | Open Access: the View from a Scholarly Society's Journal Editor »

January 9, 2007

Using CrossSearch to Search Multiple Databases Simultaneously

You may now search several literature indexes simultaneously using the Web of Knowledge search engine:

While searching multiple databases simultaneously in Web of Knowledge (WoK) is handy, it can be tricky! There are several idiosyncrasies or the WoK search engine that you'll want to be aware of:

1. If you start by searching one database, and then want to do a CrossSearch (cross-db search)...
Say you've done a search in Web of Science (WoS), and then want to search all the other dbs in WoK. You'll see in your Search Results-Summary page a link to: "CrossSearch: View additional results in other databases"
If you click on this link, your search will be run in ALL the OTHER databases, but will only bring back results from the past 5 years!. Note: the results from the db that you started will NOT be in the new search result. If you look carefully at the screen, you'd see what was search, e.g., something like:

topic=(honey bee and varroa) Databases=Biological Abstracts, Food Science and Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, WCI, Zoological Record, CAB Abstracts, EXCLUDING all records in Web of Science; Timespan=Latest 5 Years

Note carefully the timespan and the exclusion note!

2. If you start your search in the initial CrossSearch screen that is available when you go to the WoK screen (the screen that shows all the dbs in WoK):
your search will by default only come back with results from the past 5 years.
and you can only do a "topic" search (not author)

To get the search to bring back results from ALL years or to be able to specify an author, you need to click on the link to the left of the search input box that says "More search fields". Now you'll see input boxes for topic and author searches, and will have several date range options .

3. When you do a CrossSearch, the results come back in three "folders" labelled:

So the results are not all blended together. If you want to look at results from one of the External Collections, you'll be taken out to that search engine; that is, you don't stay in WoK.

4. You can save CrossSearch queries (to be run again) but the system does not let you set up autoalerts with these searches; so autoalerts must be set up for each individual db.

5. You'll need to process your CrossSearch "hits" a little differently than usual when it comes time to print or export the results.
As you're looking at CrossSearch results, you'll frequently see the same citation available through multiple databases. This is so you can see the record in the format used for each db. E.g., you might prefer to see the WoS format, where you can see cited references; or you may prefer to see the CAB format, where you can see the CAB descriptors; etc.

Similarly, if you want to mark any of the records for future printing or export, you'll need to choose which db's record you want to print / export; you do this by "marking" the link attached to whichever db you prefer.

Then, when you get ready to print / export, you'll click on the link to the "marked list". But now, instead of just one marked list, you may have 2-6 marked lists -- one for each database! You'll need to process each list separately, for of course they have different fields in them. While this might not be important for the purposes of printing, it IS important if you're exporting the records into EndNote or RefWorks.

6. The options to refine and analyze by author, institution, subject headings, etc. don't function within CrossSearch search results. . This makes sense, since each of the databases has it's own way of creating the records from which this data would be pulled.

Posted by Katie Newman at January 9, 2007 1:41 PM