Where can I get quick help on searching OSH Answers?
A quick reference card for OSH Answers provides examples of the different types of searching.
How does the search engine work?
The OSH Answers search engine uses a 'natural language' structure.
How do I search on words?
- You may use any combination of words, phrases, or sentences.
- The search engine will look at the words entered and use the most important terms to look for documents and it will ignore very common words like 'the', 'it', 'when' and so on.
- For example, if you type in when is it too cold to work outside?, the search engine would use the terms cold, work and outside and look for documents containing to these terms.
To search with words, enter the words with spaces between them.
How do I search for phrases?
- Enter words without capital letters to searches for words with and without capitals.
- When you enter a word with capitals or punctuation, the search engine looks for the word exactly as you typed it. For example, WCB finds WCB only.
- A string of capitalized words is assumed to be a name and is automatically searched for as a phrase. (See the next question about searching for phrases.)
To search for an exact phrase, surround the phrase with double quotation marks (e.g., 'liver disease').
Can I enter questions or just use words?
- A string of capitalized words is assumed to be a name. For example, if you enter JOHN SMITH the search engine will look for John Smith as if it were a phrase.
- For example, AIDS finds AIDS only, but does not find aids.
- If you enter INDOOR AIR QUALITY, you will retrieve documents that contain the phrase indoor air quality.
You can search either way. If you type in a question, the search engine identifies the important words and searches for them.
Is the search engine case-sensitive?
- For example, the search What are the tasks involved in sorting and washing? would produce the same results as entering the words tasks involved sorting washing.
The search engine is not case-sensitive if you type words all in lower case or all in upper case.
How can I expand a search to include more forms of the same word?
- When entering search terms, use lower case. The search engine will find occurrences of words that are completely in lower case or in upper case. For example, you can enter aids if you are looking for information on the disease 'AIDS'.
- The search engine is case sensitive when it comes to mixed-case words. For example, if you enter Aids, you will find occurrences of Aids only and will not find AIDS or aids. (Also see phrase searching above.)
You can expand searches by using a wildcard. To do this use on asterisk (*) to substitute for one or more characters.
How do I include or exclude specific search terms?
- For example, if you enter aid* in the search box, you would find documents containing words like aid, aids, AIDS, aided, and aiding.
- Entering the asterisk within a word like lab*r allows you to search for labour and labor at the same time.
You can limit searches by specifically excluding or requiring search terms.
Can I use 'AND' or 'NOT' to narrow my search?
- A minus sign (-) immediately before a search term (word or phrase) excludes documents containing the term.
- A plus sign (+) immediately before a search term (word or phrase) forces the search engine to return documents containing that term.
- For example, a search using the terms +ergonomics +"hand tool" -powered will find all the documents that contain the words ergonomics and hand tool but will exclude any of those documents that also contain the word powered.
Simply put, no. In a natural language system, extra words such as 'and', 'if', 'the' and 'not' are ignored. Because these common words are ignored, you are not able to narrow the search by entering the words 'AND' or 'NOT'(e.g. Boolean-type searching) as you may with other types of search engines.
The best way to get quality search results is to:
Can I limit my search by searching words in the title?
- Enter more terms related to the topic for which you are looking.
- Be as specific as you can when entering search terms.
- Use the '+' and '-' signs to include or exclude terms from your search (as described above).
- For example, if a search for AIDS gives too many documents, do the search again this time including the words such as 'HIV', 'virus', and 'transmission'. For example, +AIDS +HIV +transmission.
The search engine allows field searches. The fields that are available for searching depend on the type of documents in the collection.
In OSH Answers, the 'title' field is searchable.
What happens if I do not find information that I am seeking?
- For example, to search 'title' field, enter title:garage in the search box. Documents the have the word garage or garages in the title are retrieved.
If your search results states:'Your search for 'term /phrase' matched 0 out of [number] documents.'
the words you used are not in OSH Answers. There are various reasons why you may not retrieve information on the topic you are searching, such as:
- we have the information but it is not in the OSH Answers section of the CCOHS web site,
- it is a topic that is outside the scope of OSH Answers and will not be entered on the web site, or
- words were misspelled or the search syntax was incorrect.
In addition, the CCOHS Inquiries Service has access to a large amount of information but not all of this information is currently available in electronic format. Therefore, it is possible that the documentation you are looking for is not yet available on OSH Answers.
Please contact the Inquiries Service directly to see if we can help you further.