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Instructions for recreating saved searches from CAB Direct

Tips for converting MyCABI searches to the search syntax of the CABI Digital Library

The CABI Digital Library uses a different set of technologies from CAB Direct and CABI’s older websites, so there are some important differences in how the search syntax works which you need to be aware of if you wish to re-use any searches previously saved in MyCABI.
We provide a short summary of the search features of the CABI Digital Library, a more detailed description is available from our Help file available here:
Boolean operators MUST be capitalised, so use AND, OR, NOT; search will not work correctly with lower case Boolean operators.
Word stemming is automatically applied to all publication text fields, including author names, to help the user automatically find all the most relevant results possible.
  • It is not necessary to use wildcards to pick up plurals or other derivatives, the word stemming feature will pick these up automatically. So for example, searching for initialization will also return results for initialize, initials, etc.
  • Please refrain from overuse of wildcards as this can affect search performance.
  • You can use double quotes to completely switch word stemming off, including switching plurals off. So searching for “cat and dog” will only find records matching this exact phase with the singular words, but not the plural version <cats and dogs>
  • Use quotation marks when searching author names if you wish to find only exact matches and avoid stemming.
  • UK/US spelling variants are applied in all full text and database text fields.
Special rules for index fields: Word stemming is not applied to database index fields, the search looks for precise matching of terms and spelling.
  • Use the CABI Thesaurus to look up the exact spelling variant of index terms to apply to your search.
  • Note that CABI uses British spelling variants.
  • Use truncation if you are unsure of spelling when searching in the index fields, for example, de:colo?r brings back the same results as de:colour , whereas de:color (the American spelling variant) finds 0 results.
  • Alternatively, if you don’t know which index field and spelling variant to specify, use the Advanced Search “Indexing field” option which searches all index fields simultaneously including Descriptors and Identifiers. CABI adds US spelling variants of any index terms to the Identifier field, so searching the “Indexing Term” super field which automatically includes Identifiers, will automatically pick up any spelling variants.
Use double quotes “” for exact matching of words and phrases, and to disable stemming.
Use quotation marks to find results containing an exact word or phrase, for example “medicinal plants” brings back only results matching this precise phrase, rather than results containing both words separately anywhere in the text.
  • Importantly, wildcards – both * and ? are ignored when using quotes and will cause a search error.
  • Within phrases in quotes AND, OR, NOT are treated as words which are part of the search expression, not Boolean operators.
  • Proximity Operators are ignored within quotes
Truncation or wildcards can be used to find variants:
  • An asterisk * matches any number of characters. For example, duoden* matches duodenal, duodenectomy, and so on.
  • A questionmark ? can be used to match 0 or any single character. For example, l?st matches last, lest, list, and so on.
  • Truncation will not work within quotes, please don’t use * or ? when enclosing phrases or words in quotes as this will cause a search error.
To do a proximity search, use quotation marks around terms you wish to specify followed by a tilde ~ and a number indicating the maximum number of words separating the terms.
  • For example, “metabolic mechanism”~3 searches for the words metabolic and mechanism within 3 words of each other.
  • Please note that Proximity operators are ignored within quotation marks.
Use Parentheses or Curved Brackets to group search terms when combining three or more terms with different Boolean operators, to indicate the order of search. Terms enclosed within parentheses/brackets are processed together first by the search engine. For example, "care AND (cat OR dog)" searches for documents containing care and either cat or dog.
It is possible to use the same field abbreviations to search as were used on CAB Direct, a list of all field abbreviations may be found here:
To avoid search errors when converting searches saved on CAB Direct to the CABI Digital Library:
Change any Boolean operators applied between terms to capitals AND, OR, NOT.
If your saved search included phrases or words truncated with wildcards and enclosed in quotes, you now need to replace the truncated terms with the actual word variants you wish to find, to avoid getting search errors.
  • For example, if your previous CAB Direct search expression contained the phrase “community farm*” you could replace it with the following: “community farm” OR “community farms” OR “community farming” OR “community farmed” to ensure similar results are returned and to avoid any search errors.
Please avoid overuse of wildcards, especially for single words, as this may slow down search performance.
Pay particular attention to the positioning of brackets (parentheses) in long searches when combining multiple phrases with Boolean Operators, to ensure that the search logic is working correctly. Alternatively you may wish to break down your search into sub-component searches and use the Recent Searches ‘Combine Searches’ feature to combine those sub-components, to ensure that the overall Boolean search logic is applied correctly.
Whenever possible search using CABI’s controlled vocabulary to ensure best matches. For example if you are doing a search on ‘alternative medicines’ search the descriptor term field, so search de: “complementary and alternative medicine” which will automatically retrieve the majority of records that match this topic. This may help you reduce the overall length of the search and ensure you retrieve the best matching results.
Bear in mind that word stemming is not applied to CABI’s indexing fields, so please use the CAB Thesaurus to look up exact terms.
If you have any doubts about recreating saved searches from CAB Direct, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]