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What is the Scout Report Signpost?

The Scout Report Signpost is a searchable and browseable database to over four years' worth of the Scout Report and subject-specific Scout Reports. It contains 5,920 critical summaries of carefully selected Internet sites and mailing lists. Each critical summary seeks to provide an overall analysis of each site including general content, attribution (authors, etc.), currency, availability, accessibility and presentation. The majority of items reviewed are free and freely accessible. Detailed information about the Scout Report Selection Criteria is available.

The Scout Report Signpost also serves as a proof-of-concept demonstration that Internet Resources can be cataloged, classified, and arranged using existing taxonomies such as the Library of Congress Classification Scheme and the Library of Congress Subject Headings in concert with the emerging metadata standard known as the Dublin Core.

Note: Quick Search, via an Excite for Web Servers engine, searches all Scout Report summaries that contain 15 or more words (early Scout Reports sometimes simply noted a new service being available; these notations are not included). Additionally, Advanced Search, which allows individual fields to be searched, currently contains some 2,740 Scout Report summaries. This number is increased weekly as items are cataloged.

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How can the Scout Report Signpost be searched?

Two different search options are in place.

Quick Search

Allows for full-text searching of over four years worth of the Scout Report and subject-specific Scout Reports summaries. The result of a Quick Search is a listing of these abbreviated summaries; these entries allow you to access the referenced site directly or request more information about the site by reading the full text of the Scout Report summary.

Advanced Search

Allows searching of specific fields for those Scout Report and subject-specific Scout Reports summaries which have been cataloged - the total number of which increases on a weekly basis. Fields available include author, site title, language, etc. The result of an Advanced Search is a listing of Signpost records, containing both fielded data and abbreviated Scout Report summaries. You can then access the referenced site directly or read the Signpost Full Description.

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What is the Quick Search?

Quick Search allows for full-text searching of the Scout Report and subject-specific Scout Reports summaries. Specific fields (such as author, publisher, subject headings, etc.) are not searched. The result of a Quick Search is a listing of up to 30 abbreviated Scout Report summaries. Each record allows you to access the referenced site directly or read the full text of the Scout Report summary.

General Guidelines

  • Capitalization is irrelevant. For example, "ntis" is equivalent to "NTIS".
  • A search using two or more keywords automatically searches for any occurrences of the words used.
  • You can use the boolean operators AND, OR, NOT. These operators must be capitalized.
  • Stop words (words which have little meaning) such as "a", "and", and "the" are ignored.

Search Examples

Excite for Web Servers (EWS) first automatically searches for your term(s), then automatically searches for close approximations including plurals and word stems. For example, a search on the term "labor" will result in "labor", "labors", and "laboring" as well as "laboratory." Additionally, a search on "3.8" will also yield "38" and "38x". If at a loss, type in all the terms and synonyms for your search that you can think of. This can be quite helpful although it may also produce unrelated material. For example, the search "history textbook united states" which will yield results containing all four terms as well as items wherein each of the terms appear individually.

EWS ranks output based on the number of times a search term appears as compared to the total number of words. For example, if a search term appears four times in a seventy-five word summary, it will receive a higher rank than another summary which also contains four instances of the term but is a one hundred word summary. Summaries are grouped by Confidence or by Subject. Confidence ranking is established by a composite of factors including the number of times a term appears. Subject groupings concern the clustering of related items. The maximum default number of items returned when grouped by Confidence is twenty. The maximum default number of items returned when grouped by Subject is thirty-eight.

Exact Matches

To retrieve an exact match (without variations), surround the term with parentheses "()". For example, "(physics)" will yield only those sites with the term "physics" and not "physical" or "physicians."

Required Term(s)

A search using the plus sign (+) preceding any term(s), without any spaces, will ensure that the term(s) appears in the search result. For example, a search on "+ebola +virus" will contain both terms. Note: this search will also yield variants on "virus" such as "viral". Additionally, this is equivalent to using the word "AND" (must be capitalized) between terms.

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT

AND

Use "AND" to narrow your search results. A search using the word "AND" (must be capitalized) between terms retrieves only items that contain all the terms in the search results. For example, "supreme AND court" will retrieve only items that contain both the word "supreme" and the word "court" in the summary as well as any related terms. Note: this search will also yield variants on "supreme" such as "suprematism". Use of "AND" is equivalent to using a plus sign (+) preceding each term. For example, "supreme AND court" is the equivalent of "+supreme +court".

OR

Use "OR" to broaden your search results. A search using the word "OR" (must be capitalized) between terms will ensure that at least one of the terms will appear in the search results. For example, a search using the terms "calculus OR geometry" retrieves all items that have either the word "calculus" or "geometry" somewhere in the summary as well as any related terms.

NOT

A search using the word "NOT" (must be capitalized) preceding any term(s) will ensure that the particular term(s) is excluded from the search result. For example, a search using the terms "ireland NOT england" will exclude the term "england" but would include the term "english" and etc.

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Where can I find out more about the Scout Report Signpost and related research?

Glassel, Aimee. "Was Ranganathan a Yahoo!?" InterNIC News (March 1998). Complete article available at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/toolkit/enduser/archive/1998/euc-9803.html

Glassel, Aimee and Amy Tracy Wells. "Scout Report Signpost: Design and Development for Access to Cataloged Internet Resources." Journal of Internet Cataloging 1, no. 3 (1997):15-45. Abstract available at http://jic.libraries.psu.edu/jic1nr3.html

Roszkowski, Mike and Christopher Lukas. "A Distributed Architecture for Resource Discovery Using Metadata." D-Lib Magazine (June 1998). Complete article available at http://www.dlib.org/dlib/june98/scout/06roszkowski.html

Wells, Amy Tracy. "A Scout Report Signpost Look at One Aspect of Metadata - Resource Type." InterNIC News (November 1997). Complete article available at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/toolkit/enduser/archive/1997/euc-9711.html

You can write to us at signpost@cs.wisc.edu We would be delighted to hear from you!

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How can I contact you?

You can write to us at signpost@cs.wisc.edu. We would be delighted to hear from you!

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