NEOS Catalogue Help (Expert Tips)

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How is Searching the NEOS Catalogue Different?

In a traditional library catalogue, you can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to combine terms to perform complex searches. For example, if you want to find items that discuss both William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, you could search for “Shakespeare AND Marlowe”. The catalogue would then return ALL records that contain BOTH terms and exclude any item that does not. The logic is binary—a record either meets the search criteria or it does not.

The NEOS Catalogue works somewhat differently. It uses the vector space model in addition to the Boolean model of information retrieval. This means that relevancy is determined by several factors, including

  • how often search terms appear in a record,
  • how close the search terms are to each other in the record, and
  • which metadata fields the terms are in.

The search engine gives each record a relevancy score which determines where it appears in the list of search results. Unlike in a classic catalogue, the logic is not binary. Rather, any record that contains at least one of the search terms will have a relevancy score greater than zero and may appear in the search results.

Expert Search Tips

  • Create short, simple searches with just a few terms. Use the filters (on the More Options or search results page) to limit the results.
  • Use a plus sign (‘+’) before a search term to ensure that all results include that term. (Because of the way the retrieval algorithm works, a query with several search terms may produce results that do not include all of the terms.)
  • You can still use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), but only on the More Options page. (Note that Boolean operators must be in all capitals.)