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Help for Resources:
How do I search for a resource in AMSER?

You can search for a resource in two ways. Quick keyword search, which is available via the Search box in the upper right of most screens, matches your word(s) to words anywhere in the resource record. Advanced Search gives you more opportunities to specify which fields or areas of the records you would like to search.

What is the difference between Quick Keyword Search and Advanced Search?

Quick Keyword Search is designed to allow you to search for one word or phrase without any customization of the search process. Advanced Search provides many additional options to refine your search strategy, including searching for combinations of words or phrases, limiting the search by a variety of variables, and customizing how you will see the search results.

What are the best search methods?

A number of tips should allow you to maximize your use of Quick Keyword Search and Advanced Search:

  1. Capitalization is irrelevant. For example, NASA is equivalent to nasa.
  2. For phrase searching, enclose the words within double quotes (e.g., "Library of Congress").
  3. To search for an exact number, place the number into quotes (e.g., "114,457"). This forces the search engine to find an exact match for that number.
  4. For a string of words (e.g., Madison Area Technical College), Quick Keyword Search and Advanced Search assumes these words are joined by AND. Thus, it will match records with all the words occurring in the searched fields either together or individually.
  5. Words or phrases can be prepended with a dash or a plus sign. A dash (e.g. -magnesium or -"potato chips") indicates that you don't want any results that contain that term. Conversely, words or phrases can be prepended with a plus sign (e.g. +magnesium or +"potato chips") to indicate that you require results to contain that term or phrase.
  6. The results will be displayed in a descending order of relevance (most relevant items appear at the top of the results). Relevance is determined through a combination of word occurrence frequency and a weighted value of the resource record fields being searched. Word occurrence in the Title is weighted the heaviest. Alternate Title, Creator, Publisher, Classification, and Contributor are in the next lower tier of weight values. Occurrence in the URL and Description are given the lowest weight values.
  7. Advanced Search allows you to refine a particular search using additional criteria available in the form of a dropdown list. The AMSER portal offers several ways to limit your search - for example you can limit it to specific types or resources or from specific collections. These limits can be used exclusively or in combination with search terms. Also, users may select more than one option from each Limit by highlighting the desired options from the list. The default for these limit criteria is set at No Limit. To select a value(s), click on the down arrow to the right of the dashes to reveal available options. Highlight the desired value(s).
  8. After searching, the results list will contain hyper-linked fields for easy navigation.

How do I browse for a resource?

To browse all resources included in AMSER, click on Resources heading in the navigation bar. The number in parentheses to the right of each topical subject gives you information about how many sub-topics or records are associated with that topic heading. Topics get more specific as you drill down; you can go back to the previous topic level(s) by clicking on them at the top of the page or using the back arrow on your browser.

There are two different vocabularies you can use to browse resources by topic: Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) subject headings and Library of Congress Classification (LCC).

With only a little over 200 classifications, and only two hierarchical levels, GEM subject headings are broad and shallow. It helps to break our collection into general disciplines, fields, and topics. While each heading can encompass quite a number of resources, browsing GEM can also be quite easy and intuitive. A resource may have more than one subject heading. Examples of GEM subject headings include:

  • Science -- Biology
  • Mathematics -- Measurement
  • Vocational education -- Allied health occupations

LCC is used by most academic and some larger public libraries to classify their collections in a way that groups books that are about the same things together. It appears to you as the call number on the spine of the book. Unlike a traditional library, however, we do not have to choose only one spot on a shelf for a resource; each one can have many different classifications. AMSER uses LCC in its written-out form. It is a very specific classification system with more than 400,000 subject strings, and each can have many hierarchical levels in it. Examples of LCC subject strings include (compare with the GEM subject headings above):

  • Science -- Natural history. Biology -- Biology (General) -- Genetics -- Mutations -- Induced mutation. DNA damage
  • Science -- Mathematics -- Analysis -- Functional analysis -- Measures, integration, derivatives
  • Medicine -- Nursing -- Nursing as a profession -- Certification in nursing

Is there a What's New or a New Resources page?

The New Resources area can be found in the left column of the home page. This list contains the most recently added resources.

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