I read about an interface for PubMed that had created a proximity search.  I wasn’t sure what ‘proximity search’ was and I imagined it was a geographic proximity.  My thoughts were going down the geographic route due to my interest in geolocation and search in TRIP.   Currently, we take no account of geography in our search results so the UK, Canadian, USA etc guidelines all have similar weights.  However, I’ve thought for years (and probably blogged about it) that it makes sense if you’re searching from Australia, Australian guidelines appear higher up the results than others.

However, after some digging, it appears that it relates to proximity of search terms.  In other words only return documents where two search words are close.  I wasn’t convinced about this so asked our Facebook followers (click here for our Facebook page) and one comment said that it can be useful and gave the example of searching for drug abuse.  So, you could return documents where drug and abuse appear close by.  It made perfect sense to me, I hope it does to you.

But, my thoughts returned to the geographic proximity issue.  I think the following scenario sounds great:

TRIP works with librarians within organisations (e.g. hospitals, universities) to allow organisational accounts which allows 3 things to happen:

  • The organisation can load their own documents (e.g. guidelines) for searching.
  • The organisation uploads their link resolver (allowing easy resolution to full text documents)
  • The organisation promotes their organisational TRIP account to those working/studying in the organisation so they can search the above local documents and/or easily link-out to full text documents.

So, two questions:

  • How does the above scenario sound?
  • Do people like the idea of proximity searching where people can find words that appear close to each other?

Really interesting questions for me and hopefully you!

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