5 Unique Ways to Refine or Expand Result Sets with EBSCO Discovery Service

EBSCO Industries has developed a number of innovative search tools accessible on its flagship platform, EBSCOhost.  For instance, EBSCOhost offers a unique visual search option which we profiled in a 2011 blog post. EBSCO also produces the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), a customized index of an institution’s information resources (catalogs, institutional repositories, full-text subscription databases, etc.) that gives users access to the content through a single search form.  EDS also includes access to the EDS Base Index, which provides metadata for a wide range of materials, ranging from journals and conference proceedings to CDs and DVDs. EDS uses a technology called “platform blending” to provide relevant results from a variety of subject indexes (which the user must be subscribed to on the EBSCOhost platform).  The platform blending technology allows users to search by the subject headings from controlled vocabularies through the EDS platform.  Professional patent searchers may find this tool to be a useful way to efficiently search all of their organization’s non-patent literature resources through a single flexible interface.

I recently had the opportunity to test EDS, and I was particularly impressed by the variety of tools which the search platform offered for refining or expanding result sets within both the initial search form and the hit list.  EDS includes options to limit the search by discipline, subject, or content provider, and integrated searches and widgets may be used to expand the number of results.   After the jump, learn about five different ways users can expand or limit their result set on EDS!

1. Limit your search by Disciplines.
From the Advanced Search form on the EDS platform, users can select to limit their result set by discipline.  Prior art searchers may find this tool useful for limiting results to relevant scientific fields, although this may also be detrimental due to the the lack of transparency about how exactly each discipline group is defined. Users could therefore possibly filter out relevant results if they fail to select a certain discipline.

Limit the search by Disciplines.

Limit the search by Disciplines.

One other downside to this tool is that the disciplines facet isn’t offered as a filtering option in the hit list. Users can delete the discipline limitations after conducting a search by selecting the “X” beside each discipline in the facets side menu, but new disciplines can’t be added to refine results within the hit list.  The user must instead return to the Advanced Search form and create a new query.

View all Disciplines limitations in the filter menu beside the search results.

View all Disciplines limitations in the filter menu beside the search results.

2. Filter results by Subject.

From the filters side menu to the left of the hit list, users can expand the Subjects menu and select various subject headings to filter the result set by.  The subjects listed in this side menu are based on controlled vocabulary subject headings assigned to various records within specific databases (such as Inspec).  Unfortunately, the user can’t search the thesauruses of these controlled vocabularies to locate synonyms, broader terms, narrower terms, or related terms.

All Subject filtering options, expanded from the filters menu.

All Subject filtering options, expanded from the filters menu.

3. Filter results by Content Provider.

Users can also utilize the filter side menu beside the hit list to limit results by content provider, such as choosing to only view results from Inspec, TEMA, and Academic Search Complete.

All Content Provider filtering options, expanded from the filters menu.

All Content Provider filtering options, expanded from the filters menu.

4. Pull in results from additional databases with Integrated Search.

In a side-menu to the right of the hit list, users can select to pull in additional search results from various databases through the Integrated Search tool (available for an additional cost).  For example, in the screenshot below, users can expand the result set with patent search results from the free online USPTO databases and Espacenet.  These results will appear in the main hit list.

The Integrated Search menu, displayed to the right of the search results.

The Integrated Search menu, displayed to the right of the search results.

5. Conduct searches through other services directly on the EDS platform using Widgets.

Users may also customize their EDS platform by including various Widgets in a side-menu beside the hit list (under the Integrated Search options).  These Widgets will automatically conduct searches through third-party databases and websites and display results within the side menu.  Although these search results won’t be included with the main result set, these Widgets allow users to simultaneously search and display results from third-party sites and databases within the EDS platform.

Various Widgets on the EDS platform to search through other services.

Various Widgets on the EDS platform to search through other services.

Conclusion

The EBSCO Discovery Service allows organizations to create a customized search platform which simultaneously searches a broad base index, internal resources of the organization, subscription databases which the organization has access to, and free third-party databases and websites which may be searched on EDS through the Integrated Search option or Widgets. EDS may be more useful for organizations that already host large repositories of data, such as an academic library, but the tool could also be used by prior art searchers to simultaneously search both patent and NPL resources through a single platform that hosts a wide variety of filtering and search expansion tools.  EDS lacks access to important tools that more specialized search platforms may provide, such as access to controlled vocabulary thesauruses, so prior art searchers will still want to utilize a wide range of search tools besides EDS when conducting a professional patent search.

Have you used the EBSCO Discovery Service?  Is the service useful for patent searchers?  Let us know what you think in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

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