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ONLINE SEARCHER: Information Discovery, Technology, Strategies

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ProQuest Dialog (PQD): The New Dialog
Volume 38, Number 1 - January/February 2014


Compared to legacy Dialog, PQD interfaces are completely streamlined and user-friendly; still, the system remains multifaceted with a range of limiting options. What does all this mean? You can quickly and easily develop precision search results. PQD retains the power longtime searchers demand for complex and in-depth research with Boolean and proximity operators intact, and at the same time, makes searching comparatively simple. There are also many options to customize the interface based on specific needs.

Basic Search Interface

The default opening screen is the Basic Search. Similar to Google, you type keywords to begin searching. This style of searching avoids the onerous pre-planning process my first Dialog trainer taught a group of public library reference librarians when he introduced us to Dialog in 1981. Figure 1 above is an “image view” of the default screen; it views databases by broad industry groups. Clicking on each image provides the list of databases for each group and a brief database description:

Adis R&D Insight

Adis R&D Insight provides international coverage of drugs in research and development. Drugs are monitored through all development phases and information includes: an Adis evaluated rating of therapeutic value, a commercial summary, adverse events, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, therapeutic trials, and estimated sales and launch dates by country. You have access to: Adis R&D Insight; 1995 to date

Once you run a search and obtain results, your terms are highlighted in yellow for easy scanning. Narrowing options are built into the results page in the right panel of the screen, making it possible to create precision results. Click on a plus sign (+) to narrow further. A slider bar can be used to select dates. Note that narrowing options can vary depending on the database. Searching all databases (98 at the time) using my demo account, the following were listed.

Narrow results by:

  • Full Text
  • Peer Reviewed
  • Source Type
  • Publication Title
  • Document Type
  • Subject
  • Classification
  • Company/Organization
  • Location
  • Person
  • Tags
  • Language
  • Database
  • Publication Date 1850–2013 (Date ranges vary by database.)

If searching the Patent Group of databases, narrowing options conform to the needs of patent research. You can narrow results by:

  • Full Text
  • Patent Assignee
  • Patent Assignee Country
  • Inventor
  • Patent Publication Country
  • Publication Kind Code
  • Classification (IPC)
  • Classification (CPC)
  • Classification (ECLA)
  • Classification (US)
  • Classification (JP FI Terms)
  • Classification (JP F Terms)
  • Legal Status
  • Language
  • Database
  • Publication date 1850–2013 (Date ranges vary by database.)

Database Selection

When you first log in, all databases in the system are available for searching at one time. You can opt to search any combination of databases or search one at a time, although the patent collection is searched separately. You can change defaults using Preferences or create Database Shortcuts for databases you wish to use regularly.

Advanced Search

For more search capabilities from the get-go, use the Advanced Search page with drop-down menus and check boxes, depicted in Figure 2 below. ProQuest has been thoughtful in adding a range of drop-down menu selections. You can consult the built-in Thesaurus and add terms, select field codes, or use the Search Tips feature.

The Advanced Search interface is similar to other online subscription-based search systems available in academic and public libraries from ProQuest, EBSCO host , and Gale. Suzanne S. Bell, a business librarian in the reference department, University of Rochester, and adjunct instructor for the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, covers these systems in depth in her 3rd edition of Librarian’s Guide to Online Searching (Libraries Unlimited, 2012). I highly recommend this book for learning basic and advanced search techniques and much more.

Command Line Search

For longtime Dialog searchers, Command Line Search provides the greatest control over your search work. You can construct a search using fields and Boolean or proximity operators. You can nest search terms or use the building block search approach for complex search strategies. Each search string creates a set that you can combine and recombine in different ways as needed. Similar to the Advanced Search, Command Line Search includes a selection of drop-down menus, helpful for selecting and adding search fields, checking a thesaurus, and looking up terms, but Command Line is inherently more flexible than the Advanced Search page.

Whether you begin a search in Basic, Advanced, or Command Line Search, PQD creates sets and saves them during a session; or, you can opt to save your searches for later use in My Research, discussed below.

Lest you think information professionals and expert searchers are the only ones grateful for the Command Line interface, many LIS students who had never heard of Dialog or other systems we teach at SJSU SLIS tend to favor PQD by the end of each semester. Students especially like the control provided by set building. Here is one student’s comment that summarizes and echoes the comments of others:

Combining search sets became a powerful tool for me … I realized the power, flexibility and organization that this feature allowed. It made combining different nested searches easy, as well as keeping track of your recent search history.

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Amelia Kassel has been president and owner of MarketingBase, a global business research firm, which specializes in industry, company, and competitive and market intelligence research, since 1982. A recognized author and international speaker, she conducts seminars for associations and conferences and gives workshops onsite for companies and organizations. 


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