Using the word count (wd) in Gale PowerSearch
May 9, 2008 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Librarians / Researchers / Gale PowerSearch users/developers! How do I use the word count limit successfully?

I'm trying to search for articles on "nafta" and "environment".

Without a word count, I get 141 articles:
CCL: (ke (nafta)) And (ke (environment))LIMITS:( (full text))

Restricting the word count to more than 600, I get 7 articles:
CCL: ((ke (nafta)) And (ke (environment)) And (wd >600))LIMITS:( (full text))

Searching for less than 600, I get 3 articles:
CCL: ((ke (nafta)) And (ke (environment)) And (wd <600))LIMITS:( (full text))>

I've also set the word count at a really high number (200K+) and it still only returns 10 articles. What am I doing wrong? And is there an easier way to go about finding longer full-text articles?
posted by hobbes to Education (2 answers total)
Instead of using keyword searches, use the Gale "subject guide search" and identify the subject terms that fit your subject. In the case of NAFTA, the subject term is:

"Free Trade Agreement, 1992, United States-Canada-Mexico "

That gives you 3297 articles (in the "extended academic asap" database, at least)

Then you can find a subject term for "environment" that fits, and add those two together in your search:

(su (Free Trade Agreement, 1992, United States-Canada-Mexico)) AND (su (environment search term you found))

Keyword search is, ironically enough, messy and unfocused, despite it's name.
posted by gyusan at 2:44 PM on May 9, 2008

I hope that helps - I didn't exactly answer your original question. To clarify: I don't think you are doing anything wrong with the word count part of the search. It's just that the keyword search is limiting or missing huge sets of database returns when coupled with a word count search. I think if you combine a subject term search as I outlined above with a word count search, you'll have better luck.
posted by gyusan at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2008

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