Dialog searching introduction

Doing a basic Dialog search

  1. Plan your search strategy. Use OR to connect terms that represent the same concept and AND to connect concepts that you want both to be present.
  2. Log on to Dialog. On FIMS workstations, select "Programs|Information Resources|Dialog - Web" from the "Start" menus. If you are enabled for Dialog for more than one course, you may need to select the course number (e.g., 640).
  3. Specify the database that you want to search. Use the Dialog B(EGIN) command with the number of the database. For example, to access file #201 (ONTAP ERIC), type
         B 201
    and press Enter.
  4. Enter your search specification. Use the Dialog S (SELECT) or SS (SELECT STEPS) command. You can use the question mark (?) as a sign of truncation. To refer to a previously retrieved set of records, use S plus the set number; for instance, S1 to refer to set #1. Connect terms, truncated terms, set identifiers, etc., with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) as appropriate. Examples of use of the S command include
         S S1 AND (SELECT? OR ACQUI?)
    To each S command, Dialog will respond with the number of postings for the search specification and will assign a set number; for example,
    Set Term Searched items
    The SS command has similar results, except that set numbers are also assigned to results of intermediate steps in the search.
  5. Display or download results of a search. To display a set, click on its "Display" buton. Select items by clicking in their checkboxes, or select all items on the current page by clicking on the "Select all" button. Click on the "Records..." link at page end to move to the next page; use "Back" to move to the previous page. Use the "Format" list box to select the fullness of what is displayed with "Print/Save Selected"

    To download the records selected on a page, click on the "Print/Save Selected" button and then use "File|Save As..." from Internet Explorer's menus.

  6. End your session. Click on the "logoff" button; then close the Internet Explorer window.

Some other useful Dialog commands

E (EXPAND) plus a term displays the portion of the basic index in which the term appears (or would appear).

LIMITALL/ENG restricts subsequent searches to English-language material in some databases.

DS (DISPLAY SETS) lists all sets formed since the last BEGIN command.

SET HI ON (SET HIGHLIGHT ON) causes search terms to be marked in displayed or downloaded records for some databases.


Last updated July 6, 1999.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only): t.craven@uwo.ca
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7