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Searching the InformalScience.org Collection

Posted by
Grace Troxel
March 31, 2017

The InformalScience.org collection contains more than 7,000 descriptions of funded grants, research papers, evaluation reports, syntheses, and other resources of interest to the informal STEM learning community. These resources are contributed by the field and curated by CAISE. They are organized through a variety of metadata tags that allow users to more effectively filter their searches.

Performing a Keyword Search

If you are looking for something specific, for example, resources about programs that teach coding, then you would first use the keyword search that is found on the homepage and in the right corner of other pages across the website. Simply type your keyword (in this case, coding) into the box and select “Go.”

If you want to limit your search to a specific type of resource (for example, an evaluation report), you can select one of the Projects, Research, or Evaluation buttons. The Projects filter will search across abstracts of work funded by a variety of agencies. The Research filter will search across research papers, peer-reviewed articles, research briefs, reports, edited chapters, conference proceedings, instruments, and more. And finally, the Evaluation filter will search across evaluation reports and tools. If you do not select a filter, you will be searching the entire collection.

Using the Advanced Search

The Advanced Search feature allows you to search or browse with more specificity than a keyword search by selecting one or more metadata filters. These filters include Discipline (or scientific content), Resource Type, Learning Environment (e.g. Museum and Science Center Programs, or Citizen Science Programs), Access and Inclusion, Audience, Date, Funder, and Contributors (authors, Principal Investigators, evaluators, etc.). When using the Advanced Search, you don’t need to use a keyword, although you may if you prefer.

As an example, perhaps you are preparing a proposal and want to know what types of NSF projects have been funded in recent years that involve makerspaces. You would select “Making and Tinkering Programs” under Learning Environment, “NSF” under Funding, and “2013 to 2016” under Date.

Refining Search Results Using Filters

Once you have entered keywords or search filters and select “Go,” you will be taken to a search results page. Search results are displayed on the right column. The left column contains filters that can be used to further refine your search.

The biggest difference between using the filters on this page versus the advanced search is that you can select more than one filter within any given menu. This means, for example, that you could select both “Making and Tinkering Programs” and “Library Programs” to see results about making in libraries.

You can use the “Current Search” box to see what search terms and filters are currently selected, and you may remove terms or filters from your search using the X to the left of the text.

Remember that the more terms you select, the fewer results you are likely to achieve. When you open the sidebar filters, you will see the number of resources that are currently available within the parameters of your search. For example, if you select the filters Peer-Reviewed Article, Afterschool Programs, and Mathematics, then open the Audience menu, you will only see the number of resources that fit within all three of those categories.

Hint: You can browse the entire collection using the sidebar filters by selecting “Go” in the main search box without selecting a keyword or filter.

If you have any questions about searching on InformalScience.org or aren’t finding the results you are looking for, contact us at caise@informalscience.org. We are always happy to help!