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. From outside FIMS, run a Web browser that supports SSL, go to https://www.dialogweb.com, enter the login data provided for you by the Graduate Resource Centre, and click on "logon". 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., 677).
  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 #1 (ERIC), type
         b 1
    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 domestic? or residential or home?
         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 in a format available in the "Format" list box, select the format from the list box and click on the set's "Display" button. For other formats, use the d command followed by the set number, format number, and record range separated by slashes. For example, the following will display records #6 through #10 of set #2 in format #5:
         d 2/5/6-10

    Select items in a displayed set 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 the browser's "Back" control 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 the browser's menus.

  6. End your session. Click on the "logoff" button; then close the browser.

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.


You can also access Dialog via Telnet. (Before doing so, make sure that you know how the command-line interface works.) From outside FIMS, run a Telnet client, connect to dialog.com, and enter the user name and password assigned to you by the GRC. On FIMS workstations, select "Programs|Information Resources|Dialog - Telnet" from the "Start" menus. Remember to turn logging on in the Telnet client if you want to save your results for later use.

Last updated September 28, 2004.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only): craven@uwo.ca
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7