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Homeland Security Digital Library

A How-To Guide to Searching Homeland Security-Related Content within the Homeland Security Digital Library Database

Basic Search Overview

Users may search within the entire HSDL collection by searching the homepage. The homepage features the Basic Search function. Use the outline below to review the details of the basic search page. The next tab provides helpful search techniques. To review how to conduct searches within the Advanced Search pageselect the Advanced Search tab

  1. Click on the 'Advanced Search' link to connect to the Advanced Search page. 
  2. Select this dropdown menu to identify the appropriate search field. Options include searching by Full Text; Author; Title; Title or Summary; Publisher; or Series. 
  3. Enter keywords into this search field.
  4. Select the relevant collection to search within. Options include Full Collection; CRS Reports; GAO Reports; NPS Theses & Reports; LLIS Collection; or COVID-19 Special Collection. 

The HSDL Library Team create a helpful guide on search techniques. The search techniques are available below. To learn more about creating effective search phrases, see the Preparing to Search section of the NCU Research Process guide. 

(Credit: HSDL FAQ: Searching)

Use Quotes to Search for Exact Phrases

You may use quotation marks around multiple words to search for exact phrases

  • “weapons of mass destruction” will return results where the complete phrase appears
  • without quotes, it will return results where words in the search term appear in any order and not necessarily as a phrase

you can also search for multiple exact phrases, “climate change” “global warming”


Refine your Results with Filters

After your initial search, you can refine your search using the available filters if available: group, publisher, format, language, or author.


Boolean Operators

All of the Words (AND)

  • This search box places the operator AND between each of the entered search termsvenn_and
  • Each of the terms entered in this search box must appear in the selected fields, regardless of order

Example:

  • What you enter: Disaster preparedness
  • What it searches for: Disaster AND Preparedness
  • What you will see in the results: All results will have both terms, as represented by the darkly shaded area

Any of the words (OR)

  • Search box places the operator OR between each of the entered search termsvenn_or
  • At least one of the terms entered in this search box must appear in the selected fields
  • OR means MORE!

Example:

  • What you enter: Disaster preparedness
  • What it searches for: Disaster AND Preparedness
  • What you will see in the results: All results may have just one or both of the terms

Without the words (NOT)

  • This search box places the operator NOT between each of the entered search termsvenn_not
  • This allows you to focus your search by excluding specific terms
  • Terms entered in this search box must not appear in any of the selected fields

Example:

  • What you enter:
    • In ALL OF THE WORDS: Disaster
    • In WITHOUT THE WORDS: Preparedness
  • What it searches for: Disaster NOT Preparedness

What you will see in the results: All results will have Disaster, none will have Preparedness


Exact Phrase

  • This search box treats the search terms entered as a complete phrase
  • This allows you to search for resources where the exact phrase appears
  • The set of terms must appear in the selected fields, exactly as you have entered it

You can also search for exact phrases in any of the search boxes (Basic, All of/Any of/Without the words) by putting quotes around the phrase or phrases.


Search by Published Date

Date fields work with most date formats; for example, all of the following are acceptable:

  • March 29th 2015
  • 03/29/15
  • 2015-03-29
  • March 29, 2015
  • 03/29/2015

The Publish date to and Publish date from search fields allow you to search for resources with a specific date or date range. If no date is specified, the Publish date to defaults to the first day of the year or month specified and the Publish date from defaults to the last day of the month or year specified.

Examples:

Publish date from
March 2015
03/2015
2012
January 2015
(blank)

Publish date to
April 2015
04/2015
2015
(blank)
January 2015

Searches for publication date
between March 01, 2015 and April 31, 2015
between March 01, 2015 and April 31, 2015
between January 01, 2012 and December 31, 2015
January 01, 2015 and later
earlier than January 31, 2015


Search operators that are NOT ENABLED

The following commonly used search operators have not been implemented to work in the HSDL search

  • + or – to include or exclude terms
  • AND, OR, NOT, and other Boolean search operators

The HSDL Advanced Search Tool allows you to achieve the same results as using these operators.

Stop Words are Omitted

Most articles and prepositions are removed from any search terms you enter in the search box unless they are part of an exact phrase search

  • Examples of common stop words include a, an, are, as, at, be, by, for, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, this, to, was, will, with, the

Example:

  • What you enter: Terrorism and the Law of War: Trying Terrorists as War Criminals before Military Commissions
  • What it searches for: Terrorism Law War: Trying Terrorists War Criminals before Military Commissions

If any of these stop words are included as part of an exact phrase search (using quotes or the exact phrase search box in advanced search), they are not automatically removed.

  • What you enter: “Terrorism and the Law of War: Trying Terrorists as War Criminals before Military Commissions”
  • What it searches for: “Terrorism and the Law of War: Trying Terrorists as War Criminals before Military Commissions”

The Advanced Search page offers additional ways to conduct searches within collections. The outline below corresponds with the numbered image below. Use this as a guide when searching. 

  1. Select this dropdown menu to identify the appropriate search field. Options include searching by Full Text; Author; Title; Title or Summary; Publisher; or Series. 
  2. This search field functions like the Boolean Operator AND - it commands the database search ALL the entered keywords. 
  3. This search field functions like the Boolean Operator OR - it commands the database to search either, or, or all the entered keywords. 
  4. This search field functions like Exact Phrase Searching - it commands the database to isolate the entered keywords as an exact phrase. 
  5. This search field functions like the Boolean Operator NOT - it commands the database to exclude the entered keywords. 
  6. Enter the desired publication date range within these two fields. 
  7. The buttons below the search fields allow users to filter by Resource Type or Special Collection, Publisher, Series, Format, Language, or Author. 
  8. Results are organized by relevance but may also be organized by date. 
  9. Users with an account may create alerts to receive an email notification when new legislation is added to the collection.