Proximity searching allows you to search for terms appearing within a specified distance from one another. There are two types of proximity searching; near (Nx) and within (Wx). N and W are the operators, and x is the distance between terms. The syntax for both is the same: term Nx/Wx term.
The near operator (Nx), allows you to search for terms near one another, regardless of the order in which they appear.
For example, if you search “fish N4 oil spill,” you receive results with “fish” and “oil spill” in the title, within 4 terms of each other:
The within operator (Wx) allows you to search for terms within the specified distance in the order in which the terms are entered. For example, if you search “fish W4 oil spill,” you receive only those items where the term “oil spill” appears within 4 terms after “fish”:
Discovery also allows you to group-term search using parentheses “( )”. Group-term searching allows for greater control over searches. Words that are entered within parentheses are searched first; subsequent terms will be searched based on those results. For example, the search “(fish AND octopus) NOT (scale OR tentacles)” will first find items with “fish” and “octopus” in the title, then filter those results so that the terms “scale” or “tentacles” do not appear within them:
However, if you choose not to group your terms, the search “fish AND octopus NOT scale OR tentacles” will return every item containing “fish” and “octopus” or “tentacle” in the title, but it does not contain the term “scale”:
In order to save a little Discovery for the new year, the final installment of this series, “Discovering Discovery, Part IIIb,” will be posted in January. You will learn about in-interface options to refine more advanced searches.