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modified on 6/9/2010


Using the DCIS/WWW Interface

Copyright 1996-1999 Trustees of Dartmouth College

The DCIS/WWW interface provides access to DCIS databases from your favorite WWW browser. Your WWW browser must support forms to access DCIS databases.

If this is the first time you have used DCIS, start by reading Opening a Database, and Basic Searching. Remember that you can also use the Browser's Find command to search through this help information.


  1. What is DCIS?
  2. Navigation Bar
  3. Opening a Database
  4. Basic Searching
  5. Advanced Searching
  6. Browsing
  7. Table of Contents
  8. History and Saved Items
  9. Printing
  10. DCIS URLs

What is DCIS?

The Dartmouth College Information System (DCIS) is a joint development project of the Dartmouth College Library and Dartmouth Computing Services. DCIS is an electronic information system providing universal access to information resources used in teaching, scholarship and campus life.

The system is largely retired but remains as the access point for the Hood Museum Collection.

These WWW pages are the user interface for the system.

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Navigation Bar

The navigation bar contains links to frequently used resources and services, such as the Dartmouth Library Catalog. The databases within DCIS can be viewed by name or by category. If you are searching for a resource and are unsure of the name, clicking on "Search Names/Descriptions" will take you to a directory containing names and descriptions of all the resources within DCIS.

The "Ask a Librarian" link allows you to submit a reference question to a librarian at Dartmouth College. This service is restricted to members of the Dartmouth community or to questions relating to Dartmouth College. Be sure to include your email address so a librarian can respond to you. Your question will be forwarded to the appropriate library.

When DCIS encounters a problem that it can't remedy, it will display an error page. If this happens to you, please send a bug report using the "Report a Problem" link and supply as much information about the problem as you can. A description of your workstation (Mac or Windows, name and version of your Web browser and version of your Operating System software), the database(s) you had open and details about what you were doing (e.g., what you searched for and where) are generally very helpful.

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Opening a Database

You can easily browse the list of DCIS databases by subject oriented categories ("View by Category") or through an alphabetically arranged database name list ("View by Name") by clicking on the appropriate link from the Navigation bar. You can view a description of the database and applicable copyright messages by clicking on the (I) icon that appears to the left of the database name. Please respect the legal rights claimed in the copyright and apply for permission from the owner of the material before republishing any of it.

  • Authentication and Passwords

    Many of the databases on DCIS are licensed to be accessed only by members of Dartmouth College. In addition to a web browser you will also need Kerberos authentication software (KClient and SideCar). DCIS/WWW uses the Kerberos software to authenticate users. You will be asked for a userid and password; if you are a current member of Dartmouth College, a Kerberos ticket will be stored on your machine. This ticket allows access to DCIS resources for a limited amount of time.

    Your name and password are the same as your Dartmouth Blitzmail name and password. If you have forgotten your password, call the help desk at 646-2999.

    Once you have obtained a Kerberos ticket you may select other controlled databases without again supplying your password. When your session is complete you can close your ticket. This is especially important on a machine shared with other users.

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Basic Searching

The Basic Search Form is used to find items in a database and is the first page to appear after you select a database. The popup menus contain the indexes that you may search within a database. An index is an alphabetical listing of a category of information, such as name, publisher, title. You can change the index that you are searching by clicking on the popup menu and selecting a new index.

Type the words you want to find in the form field beside the popup menus. Together the selected index and the text you enter are a complete search term. When you click on the "Submit Search" button, DCIS will look for the search term within the selected index and tell you how many items it found. If a search is taking a very long time and you want to stop it, use your browsers "stop" button.

For example, if the top popup menu is showing "Author" and you enter "Ansel Adams" in the top input form and click on the search button, DCIS will find all the items written by Ansel Adams.

For the most effective searches, try to search for the most unique words that describe what you want to find. The index "All Indexes" searches the entire database. Upper or lower case text and the number of intervening spaces are not significant.

  • Viewing Results

    For most databases there are several ways of viewing the records in the results of a search. You can display records in a different format by selecting a different display from the Basic Search page or by selecting another format on the "Redisplay items" form on the search result page. For more information on how to to select part of the result set, see Display Options.

    The results page tells you how many items DCIS found for you; this appears towards the top of the "Search Results" display. If DCIS found any items it will display up to the first twenty for you. You may view additional items by clicking on the "Next Page" link that appears after the result set. You may also use the "Jump To" button to go to any record in the result set.

    DCIS highlights the text that matched your search.

    Some databases contain special characters or symbols which are not available in the standard set of characters. These may display differently or not at all depending upon how fonts are setup on your workstation and browser.

  • Display Options

    Using the "Redisplay Items" form on the results page, you can specify a list of items from a search and select a specific display format. Detailed descriptions of the display formats are available for some databases under "Using this Database". If for example you wanted to see the first 5 items and the 20th item in a search, you could use the "Redisplay Items" form and enter:

        1-5, 20
    

    in the "or this range" box. This function is useful for looking at records in a very large search.

    You can also select individual items using the checkboxes, select a different display format or format the record(s) for printing.

  • Checkboxes

    To select a subset of the items on the results page, click on the checkbox next to the item(s). To save the items you've checked on this page you must also click the "Save Checked Items" box. You can then view or print all the saved items under the "History & Saved Items" button.

  • Sorting Records

    Sorting creates a new result set by sorting the entire results set. It does not remember which records were selected.

  • Search Progress

    Your web browser usually indicates when it is waiting for information from the database server with a graphical element. Sometimes it may take several seconds to a minute or two for a search or a retrieval to complete.

  • Searching for Multiple Terms

    The search page allows you to search for terms in two indexes. For example, to find a book by Ansel Adams with the word "Yosemite" in its title, select the "author index" from the top popup menu and type "ansel adams" into the corresponding input form. Select "title index" from the bottom popup menu and type "yosemite" into the corresponding input form. Set the Boolean popup menu to AND. When you click on "Submit Search" DCIS will look for the books that were written by the Author "Ansel Adams" AND also contain the word "Yosemite" in their titles.

    The Boolean operator between the top and bottom popup menu defaults to "AND". To change this operator, select one of the following terms from the Boolean popup menu:

    • AND
    • OR
    • AND NOT

    For information on Boolean operators or more complicated searches, see Advanced Searching.

  • Searching with Punctuation

    If you type punctuation into a search term it will usually be ignored, but some databases assign special meanings to some punctuation characters. If you are not sure about these special meanings, you will probably want to avoid typing punctuation in your search terms.

  • Searching for Acronyms

    Acronyms have been indexed without the intervening periods. If you are searching for an acronym, type it in without any periods or spaces. For example:

         UNICEF 
         USSR 
    
  • Stop Words

    Stop words are common words that are not saved as searchable words in a database. For example it doesn't make sense to search for the word "the" because it is so common in English. If you type a stop word in your search it will be ignored. If you try to search for only stop words, DCIS will give you a message saying so. Each database has its own list of stop words.

  • Exact Search

    For some indexes, it is possible to search for exactly the value you want, expecially if it consists of a single word. An exact search will be processed faster and will retrieve no extraneous items.

    To see if a file contains any exact indexes, look in the index menu. Exact field indexes will be listed along with the regular indexes with the word "Exact" in front of the index name. In the search box include all words to be searched, including articles, boolean operators and stopwords. For example:

          Exact Title NATURE 
          Exact Author HOMER 
          Exact Title THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS 
    
  • Wildcard Searches

    In a wildcard search, you specify part of a word and let DCIS find all of the words that match that part. There are two ways you can specify the part of a word. With "truncation" you can specify a prefix and find all of the words beginning with that prefix.

    Truncation is specified using a truncation character after the prefix. The truncation character varies from one database manager to another. To search for the prefix "photo" in a database using "*" as the truncation character you would enter "photo*" as your search.

    For example if you specify the prefix "photo*", your search would match words like:

            photochemical
            photographic
            photography
            etc.
    

    You can also specify a single character wildcard. The single character wildcard also varies from one database manager to the next. In a database that uses "?" as the wildcard character, you could enter "wom?n" as your search to match both "women" and "woman".

    The list below describes the truncation and one character wildcards for the most common database managers at Dartmouth. Some database managers give you a choice of wildcard and truncation characters.

    BRS, a product of Dataware Technologies
    Truncation Characters: *, $, or #
    Single Character Wildcard: ?

    PAT, a product of Open Text Corp.
    Truncation Characters: * or $
    Single Character Wildcard: (single character wildcards are not supported by PAT)

    DII, developed by Dartmouth College
    Truncation Characters: *
    Single Character Wildcard: ?

    Oracle, a product of Oracle Corporation
    Truncation Characters: * or %
    Single Character Wildcard: ? or _

    Z39.50/92, a gateway to various Internet databases
    Truncation Characters: * or $
    Single Character Wildcard: (single character wildcards are not supported by the Z39.50 gateway)

  • Request Item

    This function pertains to the Dartmouth Library Catalog and is only available to faculty and staff. You must have Kerberos installed to use this function. You can only request one item at a time. Check one item, then click on the "Request Item" button.

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Advanced Searching

The two term searches that can be built with the form on a Search page are sufficient for many purposes. Advanced users can gain access to greater power from DCIS by using the "Advanced Search" page. When you select "Advanced Search", the Search page has a single form field where you can type the search you want.

Using the Advanced Search feature you are no longer restricted to searches of two indexes. You can also make use of unary, boolean and proximity operators to enter more complex searches which can produce smaller result sets. Boolean operators can be used to connect terms or words, and proximity operators describe relationships between words. Unary operators change the meaning of the word or term that follows the operator. The operators that are available vary from one database manager to another. The sections on Unary/Boolean Operators and Proximity Operators describe the operators in more detail.

  • Unary/Boolean Operators

    Boolean operators can be used to connect words or terms. (A term is a portion of a query that specifies the words to find in just one index.) The Boolean operator "and" is used to narrow your search result. "And" really means "find both term A and term B." If you combine two keywords with "and", you will retrieve all items with both keywords in the same field. For example, a search for:

          Canterbury and Tales
    

    will retrieve all records containing both "Canterbury" and "tales" in the same field.

    The Boolean operator "and" can also be used to find matches in two different indexes:

          Author Ansel Adams and Title Yosemite
    

    This search finds all the items with the words Ansel Adams in the author field and whose title contains the word Yosemite. The Boolean operator "or" is used to broaden your search result. "Or" really means "find either term A or term B."

          Author Seuss or Geisel
    

    This search finds all the items with either Seuss or Geisel (or both) in the Author index.

    Unary operators affect the meaning of the word or term that follows the operator. The operator "not" for example, reverses the meaning of the term following it:

          not Author Seuss or Geisel
    

    matches all of the items that have neither Seuss nor Geisel in the Author index.

    If you combine two keywords using "and not", you will retrieve all items that contain the first word, but not the second, in the specified index. For example:

          topic energy and not nuclear 
    

    will find all items containing the word "energy" but not the word "nuclear" in the topic field.

    The unary and boolean operators that are available in a database depend on the database manager for that database. The database manager for each database is listed in the "Database Description" information.

    Meanings of the operators:

    and - joins two terms or words. For an item to match it must meet the criteria before and after the operator.

    not - reverses the meaning of the word or term. For an item to match it must not contain the word or must not match the term.

    or - joins two words or terms. An item matches if it matches either of the two terms or contains either of the two words (or both).

    xor - "exclusive or" joins two terms so that items match if they match one or the other of the words or terms but not both.

    and_not - finds items which match the first word or term but not the second word or term

    The Boolean operators for the most common database managers are listed below. If you find a database manager not on this list, you should look at the database description information for helpful information on searching that database.

    BRS, a product of Dataware Technologies
    not
    and
    or
    xor

    PAT, a product of Open Text Corp.
    and
    or

    DII, developed by Dartmouth College
    not
    and
    or
    xor

    Oracle, a product of Oracle Corporation
    not
    and
    or

    Z39.50/92, a gateway to various Internet databases
    and_not
    and
    or

  • Proximity Operators

    When multiple words are being searched for in the same index, a proximity operator may be used to specify how the words are related to each other in the index. A proximity operator can specify if two words should appear beside each other in the text, within the same field, or within a certain number of characters or words of each other in the text.

    DCIS inserts a default proximity operator between any words where you don't explicitly enter one. Usually the default operator will be adequate, but for very fine control of searching you can enter the operator yourself.

    Because of differences in the underlying database managers, the meanings of the proximity operators vary slightly from one database to the next. The proximity operators that are available in a database, and the default proximity operators depend on the database manager for that database. The database manager for each database is listed in the "Database Description" information. The list below describes the proximity operators and their meanings for the most common database managers at Dartmouth:

    BRS, a product of Dataware Technologies
    prox - (same as BRS's near) The two words must be next to each other in the same field but either word may appear first. For example, "John prox Doe" will match "John Doe" and "Doe, John". Prox is the default proximity operator for BRS databases.

    adjacent - (same as BRS's adjacent) The two words must be next to each other in the same field and in the order specified. For example, "John adjacent Doe" will match "John Doe", but not "Doe, John".

    PAT, a product of Open Text Corp.
    followed by - (same as PAT's followed by) The two words must be in the order given and appear within 80 characters of each other.

    prox - (same as PAT's near) The two words must appear within 80 characters of each other, but either word may be first. Prox is the default proximity operator for PAT databases.

    DII, developed by Dartmouth College
    Proximity operators are not supported.

    Oracle, a product of Oracle Corporation
    Proximity operators are not supported.

    Z39.50/92, a gateway to various Internet databases
    Proximity operators are not supported.

  • Comparison Operators

    In some databases it is possible to search for numbers that meet certain criteria. For example, if you have a database with a "year of production" index in it, you could find all of the items produced before a particular year. You can do this using Comparison Operators.

    A comparison operator specifies a mathematical relationship the number must satisfy. Using the "year of production" example, you could enter the search "year of production < 1990" to find all the items produced before 1990.

    Comparison operators only work on numbers, so they can only be used on fields that have numbers. If no items contain numbers in a given field, using a comparison operator on that field will report an error.

  • Matching Dates

    In some databases at Dartmouth it is desirable to search for ranges of dates. These databases indicate in their database descriptions that date searching is possible. In these databases, the date field has been entered in a special way to make comparison operators work intuitively on dates; however it also requires that you type your dates in the same way. The database description for databases supporting date range searching contains instructions on how to use comparison operators to search dates. The database manager for each database is listed in the "Database Description" information.

    DCIS supports the following six comparison operators:

         = (equal)
         != (not equal)
         < (less than)
         <= (less than or equal)
         > (greather than)
         >= (greather than or equal)
    

    These operators are available in the following database managers:

         BRS, a product of Dataware Technologies
         PAT, a product of Open Text Corp.
         DII, developed by Dartmouth College
         Oracle, a product of Oracle Corporation
         Z39.50/92, a gateway to various Internet databases
    
  • Abbreviating Index Names

    It is not necessary to type an entire index name or operator name. DCIS will accept unique abbreviations. Often DCIS only needs two characters to recognize an abbreviation. If you do not intend to enter an abbreviation or an index name, you may need to put quotes around the word.

    For example, if you want to do the search:

        Author Ansel Adams
    

    You would only need to type

        au Ansel Adams
    

    Often DCIS only needs two characters to recognize an abbreviation. If you do not intend to enter an abbreviation or an index name, you may need to put quotes around the word.

  • Errors

    If you submit a search expression that DCIS cannot interpret, it will display an error page instead of results. The message attempts to diagnose the problem.

  • Special Characters

    Parentheses can be used in advanced searches to force grouping of operators over their normal precedence. In some databases hyphens can be used to bind words together into a phrase.

    For example, compare in the Dartmouth College Library Catalog the searches:

         Title Scientific American
         Title Scientific-American
    

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Browsing

In some databases, browsing lets you look at the indexes of a database. Each index is an alphabetical listing of a category of information. You can look through these alphabetical listings to find out what words are near the one you are searching.

For example, if you weren't sure if an author's name was "Adam" or "Adams" you could Browse through the author index looking for the words around "Adam". The results of the browse would be all the authors whose names appeared near "Adam" in alphabetical order.

The "Search" or "Results" pages have links to the "Browse" page.

Browsing is not supported in databases presented through the PAT database manager. You can see which database manager is used for a database by looking at the Database Description.

  • Constructing a Browse

    The browse form allows you to construct a browse. There are four parts: The first popup menu works just like the popup menus in the search form. Select the index you want to browse and enter the text ou want to find in the corresponding input box. Below that line you can enter the maximum number of items you want to look at and the kind of browse to do.

    In the Dartmouth College Library Catalog, if you are browsing for a person's name, always enter the last name first. You may separate multiple words with either a hyphen or a space.

    Another interesting use for this feature is to Browse by call number. This tells you the numbers of books that are near a given book on the shelf and might help you discover if you are looking in the right area of the library. For example, to browse for the book with call number JK/1800/U63 set the Index popup menu to "Call Number", and enter "JK/1800/U63" beside it. Select the browse kind "Around" and click on the "Browse" button. The results will be the books with similar call numbers to "JK/1800/U63".

  • Kinds of Browses

    There are three kinds of browses: "Beginning With" is the default browse and shows you all the phrases in the index that begin with the words you typed, "Ending With" shows you all the phrases in the index that end with the words you typed, "Around" shows you phrases that appear in the index before and after the words you typed.

    If we browse for Author "Adam" and select a "Beginning With" browse, we will find all the authors in the database whose last names begin with "Adam". We will also see how many items in the database were written by each of those authors. We will NOT see what those items are. Click on the hot-linked name to perform a search for that Browse term.

  • Browse Results

    Browses "Ending With" and "Beginning With" a term may be continued if there are more items that match. When the browse completes and there are more matches, the "Show More Browse Results" link is added. When you click on the "Show More Browse Results" link DCIS will display additional items up to the number you have entered in the "Number of Responses" box. For example if you entered 10 in the "Number of Responses" box of the browse form and click on "Show More Browse Results", up to ten more items will appear. The default is 20.

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Table of Contents

Some databases have a "Table of Contents" button available on their search page. The table of contents page summarizes the entire database into categories. Clicking on an item in the table of contents shows that item in more detail on another page. In most cases there may be several levels of detail for items in the table of contents. The last level will be the database record. The record can be redisplayed in other formats.

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History and Saved Items

The "Search History" form shows the searches performed in the current session. The searches are numbered and list the query, the saved items and items found. This form allows you to select a display format to print all saved items from your searches. You can also go back to a previous result set by clicking on the Saved Items or Items Found hotlink.

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Printing

To print your result set, use the printing functions in your browser. Remember to select "Format for Printing" under "Redisplay Options" before printing your results set.

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  • DCIS URLs
    • Saving Bookmarks or Favorites to your Web Browser

      The DCIS system is accessed from the WWW via URLs.

      The easiest way to save a bookmark or favorite for a specific search in a DCIS database is to connect to the database, do the search, display the records in the display format you prefer, and save a bookmark for that search. If you are using Netscape, point at the search title link, hold down the mouse button and select "add a book mark for this link" from the popup menu. If you are using Internet Explorer, point at the search title link, hold down the mouse button and select "add link to favorites" from the popup menu.

      The dafault bookmark name is the name of the search window. So if you have just done a search in the Humanities Index, the name of the bookmark file will be: Humanities Index: Search Results. If you have done a search in the Dartmouth Library Catalog,the name of the bookmark file will be: Dartmouth Library Catalog: Search Results. You may then want to go into your browser's bookmark editor and rename the bookmark to something which makes sense to you for future reference.

    • Saving DCIS URLs to a Web Page

      There are three ways you can save links to DCIS databases:

      1. Link to a saved search in a DCIS database.
      2. Link to a DCIS database that brings you to the search screen.
      3. Link to a DCIS database that brings you to either a table of contents or a section within a table of contents.



      1. Link to a saved search in a DCIS database.
        1. Go to the 'Dartmouth College Information System Databases - by Name' web page. (This link appears in the left navigation bar at the top of this page.)
        2. Execute a search that you want to save.
        3. When you are satisfied with your search and are ready to save it, click on the link that says "Copy this link to save a bookmark for this search." Use this URL for your anchor tag in your web page.


      2. Link to a DCIS database that brings you to the search screen.
        To update a link to a DCIS database, do the following:
        1. Go to the 'Dartmouth College Information System Databases - by Name' web page. (This link appears in the left navigation bar at the top of this page.)
        2. Scroll down to the database you want to link into your web page.
        3. Click on the database and hold down your mouse key. Select 'Copy Link to Clipboard' or 'Copy Link Location' from your web browser. Use this URL for your anchor tag in your web page.


      3. Link to a DCIS database that brings you to either a table of contents or a section within a table of contents.
        1. Go to the 'Dartmouth College Information System Databases - by Name' web page. (This link appears in the left navigation bar at the top of this page.)
        2. If the database has a Table of Contents feature, you should see a button labeled "Table of Contents". Click on the button. If you want to create a URL to point to a section of the table of contents, then click on that section.
        3. Copy the URL that appears at the top of the search screen that says "Copy this link to save a bookmark for this page." Use this URL for your anchor tag in your web page.

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