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Guide to searching Inspec Direct

Quick search

The Quick search in Inspec Direct comprises a search box that allows for a free text search of a single keyword or phrase. Search operators, exact search matches, wildcard searching and fielded searching are supported. A single term is a one-word search such as "chemical" or "physics". A phrase search is when you search for a specific group of words such as "spot welding". The terms will be searched in the order given.

Advanced search

The Advanced search in Inspec Direct allows you to limit your search by selecting search fields> from a menu such as Basic Index, Author, and Controlled indexing. You can also select to add any or all of the available Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT using the plus sign available. Specific dates, Document types and Languages can be selected to limit your search.

Search operators

Boolean operators

Boolean operators are used to include or exclude search terms so that the number of search hits will be broadened or narrowed. You are required to enter these operators into the search box when using Quick search. In the Advanced search, these operators are already provided for selection by default. You can click the plus sign next to the Advanced search operator fields to add more Boolean operators.

The available Boolean operators are:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

The Boolean operators must be written entirely in capital letters to work.

AND operator
The AND operator is used to narrow a search by including only the specified terms for the purpose of connecting concepts.
Only records containing both COMPUTER and NETWORK will be retrieved.
OR operator
The OR operator is used to broaden a search by including additional terms.
Only records containing either COMPUTER or NETWORK will be retrieved.
NOT operator
You can enter a NOT operator in combination with the Boolean operator AND to exclude search terms and narrow your search.
Only records containing COMPUTER AND AIDED but not NETWORK will be retrieved.

Boolean precedence

In the Quick search, Boolean operators have the following precedence (listed from highest to lowest):

  • NOT
  • AND
  • OR

For example, the AND operator takes precedence over the OR operator. If you were to search for RED OR BLUE AND GREEN, the search engine would interpret that to mean "look for documents that contain 'BLUE' and 'GREEN', or documents that contain 'RED'".

In the Advanced search Boolean precedence, the search terms are processed from left to right for each box and then the contents of the fields' text boxes are combined from top to bottom.

Fielded searching

Inspec Direct supports fielded searching via Inspec search fields in both the Quick search and the Advanced search.

When performing a fielded search in the Quick search, you need to specify a field code and use the Colon (:) operator. Enter the field code followed by a colon : directly followed by the keyword you are looking for. No spaces should be present between the colon and the search term. For example, enter into the Quick search box, AU:Rebane to search for any document by this partial author name.

A search phrase can be enclosed in quotation marks for exact matches to be returned in fielded search. For example, to expand the example above, you can input AU:"jonathan rebane" to search the complete author name.

Within the Advanced search, the fields are provided by default in a drop-down menu and can be further configured by selecting one or more Boolean operators. You can then refine your search by document type, language, or by a specific year or range of years.

There should be no spaces between the colon and the search term(s).

Search fields and codes

The available Inspec Direct search fields and codes follow below. As a reminder, these fields are already included by default in the Advanced search. You will need to manually enter the search codes (e.g. BI) into the search box when using the Quick search:

Basic Index (BI)
This field contains all the words in the Title (TI), Abstract (AB), Controlled indexing (CT) and Uncontrolled indexing (UT) fields.
Abstract (AB)
Words contained in the abstract (a summary of the article).
Accession number (AN)
The identifier number for an abstract.
Author (AU)
The name of an author of an article. The format is surname followed by initials: e.g. Smith, T., Jr.
Document Type (DN)
The type of document in which the abstracted item is published, e.g. journal paper.
Language (LA)
The language in which the article was written.
Publisher (PU)
The name of the publisher of a book, dissertation, standard or conference proceedings.
Publication Date (PY)
The year in which an article was published.
Title (TI)
The title of an article from a journal, conference, book or section of a report which has been abstracted by Inspec.
Controlled indexing (CT)
Any of the over 10,000 index terms from the Inspec Thesaurus, with each record having at least one term (and usually several) assigned to it.
Uncontrolled indexing (UT)
Significant free-language words and phrases chosen by Inspec's subject specialists which describe the subject content of an article.

Document Types

These are the document types available for use with the DN (Document type) search code. Again, these would need to be manually entered into the Quick search box, but within the Advanced search they are available by default and you only need to select from the list. Note that "Original Abstracted" means that the non-English language journal itself was abstracted and indexed. Some non-English language journals have matching English translation journals; where these were abstracted and indexed instead this is indicated by "Translation Abstracted". For example you can search for DN:"Conference Paper in Journal".

  • Book
  • Book Chapter
  • Conference Paper
  • Conference Paper in Journal
  • Conference Paper in Journal (Original Abstracted)
  • Conference Paper in Journal (Translation Abstracted)
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Conference Proceedings in Journal
  • Conference Proceedings in Journal (Original Abstracted)
  • Conference Proceedings in Journal (Translation Abstracted)
  • Dissertation
  • Journal Paper
  • Journal Paper (Original Abstracted)
  • Journal Paper (Translation Abstracted)
  • Patent
  • Report
  • Report Section
  • Standard

Truncation and Wild cards

Truncation allows you to widen a search on single keywords by including truncation symbols (* or ?) in your search term whether in the Quick search or the Advanced search.

The ? symbol is used to replace a single character, to search for a word where a single character may vary, for example: WOM?N to find Women or Woman

The * is used to replace zero or more (any number of) characters. For example, or if you wish to look for variants of words. For example, you can enter DEVELOP* to find Developing, Development, etc.

Left-hand truncation (or "pre-truncation") is used to search for words that end with a stem, for example: *OXIDE to find Dioxide, Hydroxide, Oxide, Peroxide, etc.

Get exact matches

Put a word or phrase into quotation marks in the Quick search or Advanced search to do an exact search e.g. "distribution coefficients" if you do not wish Inspec Direct to match the word or phrase more broadly (i.e., searching for resist will match documents that contain resistance, resisted, resisting, and so on).

Case-sensitive searching

Most searching is NOT case-sensitive within Inspec Direct (either for the Quick search or Advanced search), e.g. if you enter "diodes", "Diodes" or "DIODES" into the search box, you will retrieve the same results.

American/British spellings and synonyms

The Inspec Direct search engine will respect British or American spelling. If you type in 'colour TV' this will only retrieve 'colour TV'. If you type in "color tv", it will retrieve "color tv". In other words, American and British spelling variants are not treated as synonyms of each other.

Non-Searchable Characters

The following characters cannot be searched for, since they have special meaning to the Inspec Direct search engine. Entering them on their own will trigger no results and/or an error message.

/, \, ?, &, %, > , <, ', "," and ()


'Language' refers to the language in which the original document was written (e.g. French, Japanese).