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Benefits of a Textword+Synonym Search

Do you know all the terms needed to perform a comprehensive search on your topic?  Are you sure?

Performing a comprehensive search

When you perform a textword search in SafetyLit, you are searching for that exact word in the title or summary of each article, chapter, or report contained in the SafetyLit archive database.

If you are searching for something that is known by several different terms and you only use one or two of those terms in your textword search, you can miss important articles or reports that concern your topic.

The purpose of the textword+synonym search is to allow the search to be performed on any one of the many words for the concept and allow SafetyLit to automatically perform the search on ALL of the terms for that concept.

For example, if you are interested in gathering information about "baby walkers" and you perform a textword search using that term you will find quite a few articles on the topic. You may even be pleased with the number of results.

However, you will miss the articles that use other terms or phrases that describe the device.

If you want to do a comprehensive textword search it is necessary to know all of the terms that label the concept. You might know to also search using the term "infant walker" but even then, you would miss articles that use any of the several other words and phrases that label the device.

A textword+synonym search will automatically perform a search using the 12 other terms and word forms that are used by authors to describe the "baby walker" concept.

There are many other concepts that are known by many words. Among these are:

  • Workplace=work place=worksite=jobsite, etc.
  • Intimate partner violence=domestic violence=spouse abuse, etc.

Performing a textword+synonym search allows your query to be quite sensitive without knowing and entering all of the words that are used for the desired concept.

What of words that could have more than one meaning?

Ambiguous search terms

Some terms have multiple meanings. For example, "football" is used by authors to refer to several very different games each with different rules and risks.

A simple search using the textword "football" will return hundreds of items that concern all of the various games -- many irrelevant, unwanted items. With a textword+synonym search, when you enter an ambiguous term you will be prompted with a "disambiguation prompt". In other words, instead of receiving everything in the database that contains the word "football" you will instead see a screen that provides options for each use of the term:

  • American football
  • Association football (soccer)
  • Australian rules football
  • Canadian football
  • Etc.

A similar situation exists with other words, does "tailgating" refer to following too closely to the vehicle in front or does it refer to an event where alcohol is served before a party, game, or concert where there may be restrictions to the availability of alcohol?

In each of these cases, you will offered a selection of terms so that you can specify the nature of your intended search topic.


Revised 28 October 2014