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Wilson Art Index Retrospective, Art Full Text: An Update (Susan Moon, UCSB)

After discussions with H.W. Wilson, UC librarians, and CDL, some very useful changes were made to ArtFull Text and Art Index Retrospective.

  • Default for Basic search is now Boolean not Natural Language. Though the Advanced search is the default, there are occasions for using the Basic search.  For example, if one did a search on “monet and haystacks” the search results under Natural language would include records which had either ‘Monet’ or ‘haystacks’ or both.  Often the number of results were too numerous.  Under Boolean searching there is an implied ‘and’ requiring that both terms appear somewhere in the record.
  • Automatic stemming has been turned off.  When automatic stemming is ‘on,’ the search engine takes the stem of a word being searched and uses it in its search, so the search is powerful but often overwhelming and unexpected.
  • Truncation Users can now use * (asterisk) for truncation, i.e., search the stem or partial phrase and use * to find the search term and its variations. Example:
    modern architecture: result 7,418
    modernist architecture: result 1,834
    modern* architecture: result 9,341 (includes modernist, modernism & modern)
  • Wildcard Users can now use ? (question mark) for a wildcard. Example
    wom?n: result 34,574 (eek!)
    women: result 18,777
    woman: result 20,736

Additional remarks

  • Art Abstracts has been subsumed by Art Full Text; that is why it no longer appears in the list of databases to be checked off when first logging into the Wilson site.  Art Index Retrospective and Art Full Text should both appear and both (depending upon the search) can be checked.  Bibliographic guides need only point to Art Retro or Full Text
  • When a search is done in Art Full Text and the user looks at the citations, it is sometimes unclear why a particular citation was part of the result. H.W. Wilson clarified this by saying that the search term would appear in the full text of the citation (html or pdf).  I have found this to be true in the searches I tried out, but it is confusing for a patron not to see the term they searched appear anywhere in the citation.