Report:Inspec/Common Ways to Access/Individual System Details/EBSCOhost

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Feature Comments
Are all file specific search fields enabled? Yes, all fields can be searched, including all indexing which uses a form of controlled vocabulary.
Is the Inspec Thesaurus for controlled vocabulary accessible? Yes, access to the Thesaurus is available when the database access is purchased. All features of the Thesaurus are available in a graphical interface.
Which search operators are available? Boolean; proximity including near proximity operator (within x terms), ordered or non-ordered, proximity operators can be used with truncation.
Is truncation available? Yes, limited and unlimited right truncation, limited and unlimited internal truncation.
Graphical or command line interface? Graphical interface.
What dates are covered? Inspec is available from 1969-date and Inspec Archive is available from 1898-1968.

Additional Commentary

EBSCOhost is an online provider and search system for numerous well-known non-patent literature files such as MEDLINE, Inspec, and Polymer Library, along with proprietary files such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Corporate. For more information on EBSCOhost as a general search system, see the EBSCOhost article.

EBSCOhost features access to Inspec and Inspec Archive era citations as well as touting additional full text coverage for some journal titles that are abstracted in the Inspec file. Some of this full text coverage on EBSCOhost is available directly from the system and does not require users to visit external sites, while other full text coverage is accessed through an off site link. Users have the option of limiting results to those citations with full text coverage.

The EBSCOhost Advanced Search section offers a graphical interface with both field entry and results limiting options.

editors note iconEditor's Note:

Testing indicated that for a sample query of "electron" in Inspec Archive, 1,291 of the 106,229 results had full text availability, a significant yet small percentage. This percentage, however, is not necessarily indicative of what users may see on a more specific search or a search in Inspec (1969-present). This is because recent articles are more likely to be available in full text form due to the increasing amount of digitized journal content over the years. Since recent articles are more likely to be of interest to users, the above test should not be considered representative of every search.[1]

EBSCOhost provides three main search interfaces: Basic, Advanced, and Visual. Basic Search is a single field entry that searches the database for keywords. The Advanced Search expands the functionality to include the ability to search in any specific field within Inspec, and create Boolean combinations of these field searches. Visual Search is the Basic Search with a graphical and dynamic display of results that allows users to narrow and limit results lists via branching index terms.

The Visual Search results page allows real time dynamic filtering and limiting by controlled vocabulary. When a record is selected, a preview is displayed to the right.

For all search interfaces, various search modes and options are available, including:

  • Boolean/Phrase
  • Find all my search terms (automatically uses AND)
  • Find any of my search terms (automatically uses OR)
  • SmartText Searching (allows users to copy large sections of text)
  • Apply related words
  • Also search within the full text of the articles

Alerts can be created in EBSCOhost, and modified with respect to frequency, result format, delivery method, and time frame in which the search results were published. Delivery methods include a RSS feed and e-mail options.

Alerts can be created from scratch or based on any search query in the search history.

The Search History display in EBSCOhost allows users to combine search strings, view results, and examine and edit details of the query. Query details include options enabled and hits generated.

The search history interface allows users to modify or delete already executed queries.

The hit list in EBSCOhost can further be modified by the user to sort by date, author, source, or relevance, narrowed by date, source type, subject (controlled terms), or publication title, or limited to records that have full text availability.

The Inspec Thesaurus available through EBSCOhost provides all of the functionality of the Thesaurus on other systems, including the ability to see the "years in use" for a particular term, and to search by narrower terms, broader terms, related terms, and related classification codes. Searches can be executed directly from the Thesaurus.

The Inspec Thesaurus on EBSCOhost provides linked navigation of terms.

editors note iconEditor's Note:

EBSCOhost succeeds in providing a multi-tiered interface for users of all abilities. Beginners can simply conduct text searches, while advanced users can easily search multiple fields at once. The Visual Search interface offers a unique and intuitive way for users to pare down results with its graphical interface, which some users may prefer. However, the Visual Search hit list has some flaws, such as the inability to see more than a few records at a time, and an upper limit of 250 results. Additionally, the information displayed for each record is extremely limited unless the record is selected by the user (thus displaying the information in a sidebar).

The full text availability for Inspec within EBSCOhost is a standout feature of the system despite the fact that the full text coverage is a very small percentage of the whole coverage. This serves mainly to provide in-depth reading material for users interested in a certain topic, rather than a complete one stop shop of document downloads.

As in Engineering Village, the available graphical Thesaurus of Inspec controlled terms puts a wealth of knowledge at the fingertips of users. Since controlled terms can be searched directly from the Thesaurus, many users may prefer this method of searching.

EBSCOhost is a highly functional search system that gives users an intuitive method of creating and limiting search queries.


  1. This testing was conducted on June 14, 2011.
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