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New ScienceDirect advanced search delivers fast and powerful results

By: , Posted on: April 19, 2018

Keeping up with scientific literature has been described as the single most important skill that remains crucial throughout a researcher’s career, but it’s no easy task… On ScienceDirect alone, there are more than 3,800 journals and over 38,000 books packed with useful results and ideas.

To combat the dangers of information overload, ScienceDirect has been steadily investing in its search capabilities and this month saw the launch of the latest phase in that journey – the new advanced search. This unique technology offers search capabilities unmatched by other academic platforms, including:

  • The ability to search over a dozen fields
  • Extensive support to use Boolean operators and nested clauses
  • Improved, faster response times that are on-par with other leading search engines
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use design
  • Advanced filtering capabilities

The old and new advanced search – how do they measure up?

In terms of design, the new page is much more intuitive and user-friendly.

ScienceDirect’s previous advanced search

ScienceDirect’s new advanced search

And when it comes to features, the ScienceDirect advanced search is breaking new ground in the industry.

Feature Old Advanced Search New Advanced Search
Number of Field combinations using Boolean AND, OR, NOT Supported only two field combinations Supports 11 fields that can be combined by Boolean AND & NOT. In future, this will grow to >15
Number of Boolean operators  Supported only one operator Now supports an unlimited number
Construction of nested clauses using parentheses/brackets ()  
 Ability to use minus-hyphen exclude operator: (e.g. typing depression-economics will find articles related to depression but not economic depression)  ✘
Search for DOI  ✘
Helpful messages when you make a mistake  
In-place editing of advanced search
Quick filtering using left-pane options Slow Fast filtering and intuitive design
Auto-suggestions for journals & books  
Page performance & response times  Slow at 5 -15 seconds Fast response time of 1-2 seconds
Quality of results  Good Even better
Filtering by article types Supported only 11 types Supports up to 24 article types
Downloading multiple PDFs on a page Supported a maximum of 20 PDFs That maximum is now 100 PDFs
Filtering by content type (journal / Book) Supported but process was complex Supported via article type filters, including open access and open archive


The mechanics of building a world-class search

The new advanced search is the most recent stepping stone on a path designed to transform ScienceDirect search. It began last year with a migration to a new, more powerful platform. Since then, we’ve seen search use grow by 50%, while article downloads have increased by 80%.

Over the course of this year we will be rolling out further developments, covering areas such as:

  • Citations: You will be able to export multiple citations shown on search results page, view the number of citations received by articles, and search and sort by citation count.
  • New search fields and options: Choose to search by references, author affiliation, languages, country, methods & materials, acknowledgements, grant and conference information, and more…
  • Ease of use: Search will be integrated into the ScienceDirect header and search pages will be customizable with the ability to view graphical abstracts, images, and abstracts. You will also be able to view non-article content on the search page, such as author information, topics and special issues. It will be possible to save searches and search history and set up search alert email notifications.

What do researchers say?

The feedback we’ve received so far has been great!

“Honestly, I find it hard to suggest any improvements, so I’m just going to say, keep up the good work. The search experience is amazing.”

“It’s a wonderful experience. easy access for master student like me. [I’m] really grateful. thanks… :)”

“It is so professional and user-friendly!”

You can view a tutorial on the Advanced Search function on ScienceDirect here.





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