Magazine article Online

Date Searching on Dialog

Magazine article Online

Date Searching on Dialog

Article excerpt

No, DIALOG does not have a new personals database. This is not the typical singles boy-meets-girl classified ad. This one is about using date parameters to add precision to your seaching. As database files have grown older and larger, covering ten to 20 years of information, restricting retrieval by data has become more advantageous--and necessary.

Restricting by date and using date ranges has always been useful when searching full-text newspapers. How many of you have been asked for the "last year or so" of newspaper articles about a local company or a hot issue? Many of the original newspaper databanks such as DataTimes, NEXIS and the now defunct VU/TEXT, have date ranges built into their systems. They realize that often people searching newspapers are looking for the most current information, instead of wanting the most exhaustive search possible.

The DataTimes default is to the most current year, and to search the backfile of a newspaper you have to use the TOTAL command. NEXIS has a file called CURRNT, which is a subset of the OMNI file of full-text newspapers and magazines. CURRNT covers the most recent 12 to 24-month time period. On VU/TEXT you used to be able to choose which year or years you wanted to search by choosing different subfiles of a newspaper. We used STA to search the total Star Tribune file, and ST90 to search the file for 1990 articles. The subfiles allow for searching that much touted "last year or so" of a paper with ease, while at the same time making the actual size of the file being searched smaller, speeding up response time.

DIALOG'S CURRENT COMMAND

DIALOG has long needed a command or function that allowed searching only the more recent records in some of its older, larger files. This became an even more pressing need when most of the VU/TEXT newspaper files were migrated to DIALOG, losing the year-by-year subfiles. To fill this need DIALOG introduced the CURRENT command in May 1993. CURRENT effectively allows the creation of a subfile of recent records.

I had a chance to try CURRENT recently when a client called and asked to see the major stories about 3M in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) for the past year or so. This kind of searchh is always a scary proposition given the fact that 3M is mentioned in the paper every two r three days.

However, with CURRENT the date limit is set for me before I even begin creating a search strategy. I simple used the command b724 current (Figure 1). This automatically restricts your search to the current year and one year back. I find that this is normally what people mean by "a year or so of articles."

You can also create your own user-defined CURRENT to include the current year plus one to five years of backile by adding a number from one to five at the end of the word CURRENT. If the client wanted the last three years of articles in the Star Tribune about the 3M Adhesives Division. I would use the command b274 current3 or b724 current, depending whether he meant back through 1990 or 1991 (Figure 2).

Figure 2 also shows what happened when I forgot with CURRENT range I was using in the middle of this search. DIALOG anticipated this problem and conveniently created the SHOW CURRENT command, which displays the form of CURRENT in effect. In this case, I was using CURRENT2. This search strategy and date range were not finding enough information so I canceled CURRENT by typing CANCEL CURRENT.

This brought me back into the full file. I added another year of information to my searcy results by using PY=1990 to search for publication year by field. Still there were few hits, and in fact not many even if the full Star Tribune file, on 3M Adhesives. I may need to go back to my client and suggest we look for more terms and revise our strategy. That is a topic for another article, but often searching by date ranges using CURRENT can be helpful in searching newspaper files for timely information. …

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