Introduction to database research, based on the example of by yxm41365


									Introduction to database research, based
on the example of CSA
CSA Technology Research Database

Version: July 2009


1. Introduction                                                                                       3

2. The interface                                                                                      3

3. Basic search                                                                                       4

4. Search results                                                                                     6

5. Advanced search                                                                                    8

6. Search tools                                                                                       9

7. Alerts                                                                                         10

8. Conclusion                                                                                     12

Dr. Bruno Meyer
Dipl. Ing. ETH
Rämistrasse 101
CH-8092 Zurich
Tel.: +41 44 632 67 11

ETH Library 2009

                    This document is published under the following Creative-Commons Licence:

Version: July 2009

1. Introduction

The CSA (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts) databases provide an interface with which it is possible to
simultaneously search a number of databases covering all scientific fields (meta-search). It is best,
however, to select a specific number and group, and to save this as a default if necessary.

In order to provide access to these databases from different subject fields, the ETH-Bibliothek has set
certain defaults, which are given as links under the relevant field. For example, in the subject category
«Architecture, Built Environment and Environmental Design», the relevant interface is reached via the
item Technology Research Database . This access offers content from the engineering sciences
(principally Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Aerospace,
Materials, Computer Science). The entries are compiled from more than 4,000 journals and from
conference proceedings and manuals. The date range covered by each database varies (max. from
1962 onwards), and the data is updated monthly.

2. The interface

(1)         The interface is provided in English, French and Spanish. German is not currently

(2)         CSA offers a variety of search options, in the form of tabs: Quick Search – Advanced
            Search – Search Tools

(3)         On the right-hand side, there is a link to a personal profile (My Research) which you can
            set up. The Search History button takes you to Search Tools, and the Help and Support
            button opens technical support in the Support Center.

(4)         The default setting is Quick Search for easy access to the initial search field.

(5)         The default setting is a subject-specific selection of databases, which can be displayed via
            the button (Show). This selection can – and should – be amended as required. Either
            choose one of the three topics (using the pulldown menu), or limit the search to specific
            The field below allows you to select the date range (e.g. all documents from 1999

(6)         You can get fast access to the CSA database from your desktop by setting up a shortcut.

(7)         The ProQuest button takes you to technical support.

Version: July 2009







3. Quick search

(1)        It is important to use an accurate search strategy (prepare your questions using specialist
           terms and/or authors). The rules covering operators and truncations are given below the
           search field.

(2)        Start by selecting the subject field or databases from the list provided. Enter the search
           terms in the search field.
           For example : «Technology» in the subject area (pulldown menu Subject Area) and then
           (energy saving* AND building*) in the search field.

Version: July 2009



(1)        A list of the journals and serials covered is given under Search Tips. However, you can also
           find this list under the
               symbol, located next to each title of the database selected (see below).

(2)        More tips are given in the CSA Illumina Quick Reference Guide, which is at the end of the
           Search Tips and is available in 10 languages, including German.

Version: July 2009



4. Search results

(1)         Which database is best for a particular search? Click on the     button to the right of the
            number of hits. A list appears giving the number of hits for each database. This means
            that you can evaluate each database with reference to your own query, and delete any
            unwanted databases from the query if you wish.

(2)         CSA classifies the hits according to the type of document, so it is possible to use this to
            narrow down the results. Depending on the database selected, you will be given details
            under Scientist, Calls for Papers, Peer-Reviewed Journals, Conferences, etc.). The More
            button on the right opens up additional options if required.

(3)         In the results list, each result is shown with title, author and publication or source.
            Depending on the database, you can call up the whole entry, its bibliography and full text
            (using SFX). The right-hand column shows the database concerned, together with its
            relevant keywords.

Version: July 2009

(4)          In the results list, select the results you want. You can save this list (Marked Records),
             print it out or send it by e-mail. Choose the format you want, and add a comment to the
             list if required. The CSA RefWorks option enables you to set up a bibliography.





(1)          At the end of the results list, you can edit your query, specify the desired database, and
             limit the date range. You can also send the amended search directly from here.
             An example of expanding the number of results is : Energy AND (saving* OR
             consumption) AND (building* OR architect*).
             In this case, the keyword «energy consumption» that was found in the database has been
             You can save the amended search strategy by going to Search History, where the queries
             and the number of results will appear (at 1 and 2 in this example). Click on Copy Query
             and the relevant results list will appear with the «Command Search» field.

Version: July 2009


5. Advanced search

(1)        Enter the search terms in the default search fields, select the fields using the pulldown
           menu on the right, and link the search at the left to the Boolean operators (and, or, not).
           Specify the relevant databases and limit the date range.
           For example: (elevator* OR lift*) AND (skyscrap* OR highrise OR tall) AND (building* OR
           The fields shown at the right, and their abbreviations, are given in the descriptions of the
           databases (field codes with examples, e.g. AU=, TI=).
           You then have three limit options : Latest Update, Journal Articles Only and English Only.

(2)        You can limit the search from the outset in the top line – in this case to documents or to
           conference announcements. The results list can also be limited, and can be sorted by date
           or relevance.
           The display format can be specified in a pulldown menu at the end of the results list, as
           can the number of items per group.
           At the very end, CSA offers even more options with search fields specific to each
           individual database.

Version: July 2009



6. Search tools

(1)          The search tools are given on the interface itself. At the top is Search History; when this is
             opened, the combination options (AND, OR) appear.

(2)          In Search History, you can combine results lists and also enter new search terms. For
             example, if the search (skyscrap* OR highrise OR tall) AND (building* or architect*) AND
             concrete* is saved as a set, it can be combined in the search field as follows : # 1 AND
             (highperform* OR highstreng*). The query will then be moved to Command Search.

(3)          If you wish to search through a range of fields, in the Command Search enter the field
             abbreviations with an equals sign (e.g. TI= for title field, AU= for author field, DE= for
             keyword etc.). The procedure should be matched to the database(s) concerned, as some
             of these cover very specific fields.

(4)          Searching by means of a controlled vocabulary (thesaurus) can produce additional
             results. CSA offers a number of thesauri, or you can search through just a single list each
             time. Select the thesaurus appropriate to the query either before or after choosing the

Version: July 2009

            There are three options for searching for a single concept: the alphabetical index, a
            hierarchy, or the wording within the designation.
            The search can then be continued using AND or OR, or with the inclusion of all sub-terms.
            This third option will increase the number of results considerably.
            To obtain a complete result, you will have to select a number of databases and / or
            thesauri separately, and repeat the search using the same strategy.

(5)         Within a database, you can usually search using three indices (catalogues): by author, by
            journal title, and by publication type (article, dissertation, bibliography, manual etc.).
            When using this strategy, select one database only, and use the pulldown menu to see
            the indices available.

                                 (3)           (4)          (5)



7. Alerts

(1)         In your very first search result, you will see the option to set up an alert on the first line. If
            you have not yet set up an account, you will be asked first to register as a user with a
Version: July 2009


(2)        As a rule, you would carry out a number of searches, evaluate the results in Search
           History, and then decide whether to: Edit, Save or Alert, View Results, or Delete.
           The alert can be replaced, deleted or changed at any time. CSA will delete it after 6
           months and will give you advance notice of this.


Version: July 2009

8. Conclusion

Evaluation       The CSA Technology Research Database provides extensive access to
                 information from the widest range of engineering sciences. It is best to match the
                 databases selected within the field concerned right at the start of the query

                 Searching using the thesaurus has great potential, as the search can be expanded
                 to include narrower terms using the «Explode» function. Synonyms (Use For) are
                 covered at the same time. For this to work, it is essential that the hierarchy has
                 been set up and maintained (this is not currently the case for «Technology Items»,
                 for example).

Tips             The interface includes a «Help & Support» button. A more useful option is the
                 «ProQuest» button on the bottom line, which takes you to online tutorials on Quick
                 Search, Advanced Search and Command Search, for example.
                 The databases often provide an abundance of documents. This does not mean that
                 your work is finished: it is only the beginning. The important factor is the
                 evaluation of the results.

Version: July 2009

To top