Monday, November 19, 2018

Multiple searches as database pain point

So far, studies in the field of African American literary studies have concentrated on a few authors at a time. But what happens when searching for information on dozens or even more than 100 writers?  I wondered about that during a current project on approximately 150 while using ProQuest Dissertations -- a database containing 4 million documents.

I've had to search for writers one at a time. It's been something of a pain point or barrier that there is no way to run multiple, comparative searches. For example, when searching for individual mentions of "Richard Wright," "Toni Morrison," "Ralph Ellison," "Zora Neale Hurston," and "Alice Walker," I can do five separate searches. But what if I could combine them?

I suspect the technology will change in coming years. We'll see something like Google Ngram Viewer where you could see representations of Wright, Morrison, Ellison, Hurston, and Walker mentions together.

A Notebook on ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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