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Finding Survey Instruments and Questionnaires: Federated Searching

Federated Searching...What Is It?

Federated Searching is a simultaneous search of multiple databases using the same search strategy. 

When there are a number of databases to consult, a federated search can save time. 

Bear in mind however that this type of search has its limitations:

1) Database variance - databases vary considerably in search features and this can have a direct bearing on both search retrieval and assessment of results.

a) Bibliographic record variance - databases vary in the depth of indexing supplied to bibliographic records. Some databases provide instrument-specific fields to aid the researcher in locating available instrument references. Most do not, however. Federated searching jumbles all retrieved records together. 

b) Index Field variance 

c) Subject Term variance

2) Unmanageably large search retrieval

3) Irrelevant search results - this type of searching can substantially increase the number of irrelevant results.

Types of Federated Searching Available at UT Tyler: 

1) Vendor-specific (i.e., EBSCO)

2) SwoopSearch

EBSCOhost Federated Search

EBSCO Federated search simultaneously searches all subject relevant EBSCO databases for records matching your search strategy.

To perform an EBSCO Federated search for instruments, 

1) Log in to a subject appropriate EBSCOhost database



2) Enter an All Text nested "OR" search strategy in the search boxes (see...) and run an initial search of the database



3) Find and click the Choose Databases link (immediately above the search boxes)



i. This will open a Choose Databases submenu, displaying every database to which UT Tyler currently has access

4) Select each database you wish to include in your Federated Search (by clicking the check box immediately left of the title) 



5) Click the OK button



6) Click the Search button to initiate your search


In a Federated search, EBSCO will always distinguish a record's database of origin at the bottom of the citation record in the results display:   



Note: many database vendors enable Federated searching across their subscribed databases including: WorldCat/First Search, ProQuest, Gale databases, etc.) 


Federated Searching with Swoop Search

Where EBSCO Federated search covers databases subscribed from a single vendor, SwoopSearch Federated search covers databases from many different vendors. 

The limitations of Federated searching itemized in the "What is Federated Searching" window apply with special force to SwoopSearch Federated searching. 

An All Text nested "OR" Federated search using SwoopSearch will retrieve a colossal number of instrument references. 

But the variance in formats and features among the retrieved records can make finding actual instrument titles slow going. The sheer volume of records to sift through can be daunting. And the number of topically irrelevant records considerable. 

Over and above these issues, SwoopSearch has unique idiosyncrasies that render advanced searching a challenge. 

If, however, comprehensiveness of results is the goal,  SwoopSearch enables a Federated search of most databases¹ subscribed by UT Tyler Library. 

To perform a Federated search using SwoopSearch,

1) Click the Advanced Search link in the big orange rectangle. 



2) Enter an All Text nested "OR" search (see...) in the search boxes



3) Locate and select the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals option under Limit your results (in Search Options)

4) Click the Search button to initiate your search

Search results will appear in order of relevance.

SwoopSearch will display  source database information for some (but not all) records in the citation field of the record in question. 


 You can narrow your search to a single database or group of databases within your search results.

To do so,

1) Scroll down the Refine Results column (left hand column of Search Results page)

2) Locate and select the Source link

3) Select Show More to view the complete menu of Source databases

4) Select the source databases to which you wish to limit your search results

5) Click the Update button to limit search results to your selected databases.

Note: This feature is a temporary limiter and only applies to a search for which you already have search results. If you modify your search strategy (after using this limiter), SwoopSearch will revert to your default limiters and search across all of the databases covered by SwoopSearch


¹ Noteable exceptions: neither Health and Psychosocial Instruments, Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print are covered by SwoopSearch.

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