New to DA--Two questions

I’m still learning how to use this remarkable program, and have a two questions for the forum that I haven’t seen an answer for anywhere.

  1. After a search, the results are viewable in the search window and the digest, but after you send then to the archive, they apparently cannot be reopened in the search window to analyze by the digest–at least I haven’t found how to do it. This would be nice for scheduled automatic searches that are sent immediately to the archive before you have a chance to see it in the search window. Or am I missing something?

  2. I am unfamiliar with all the types of commands that are possible in doing searches–at least those beyond OR and AND. Is there a list somewhere of the Boolean search terms? It would be useful to have at least a partial list in the user’s manual for those newcomers unfamiliar with them.

In general, for all of DA’s great features, I find the manual very lacking in basic information beyond a short description of each menu item. Learning to use DA actually requires the forum and those users willing to write extensive tutorials. That said, I do find it a very useful program–along with DT a tool I will use everyday.

  1. That’s not yet possible but will come.

  2. See Help > Reference Guide > Queries > Operators

Thank you for your quick reply. I must have missed the queries in the help manual–I should have looked more closely.

  1. Note that when you set up scheduled searches you can direct the search set to send you an email that displays just the new results found for the run.

  2. It may take a little thinking and practice to learn how to formulate really effective search queries.

One of the most important principles to grasp is the use of parentheses to tell DEVONagent how to interpret your query.

See for an illustration of the OR, AND, NOT, XOR operators and how the use of parentheses controls interpretation of combinations of operators.

Another important feature is the use of quotation marks to tell DEVONagent to look for an exact string.

Example: “Aldous Huxley” will look for that exact string. So that’s more specific than the terms

Aldous AND Huxley

The query “Aldous Huxley” will only pull down pages that contain that string. But the query (Aldous AND Huxley) could pull down a page that contains the strings Aldous Smith and Thomas Huxley, for example.

There are some additional and powerful operators such as NEAR, BEFORE and AFTER. Those work as you would think. Each of them has a default value of 10. So the query:

 Aldous NEAR Huxley

means to look for the term “Aldous” within ten words of the term “Huxley”.

But NEAR, BEFORE and AFTER can be adjusted, e.g. NEAR/2 means the terms, e.g. ‘Aldous’ and ‘Huxley’ must be within 2 words of each other. That operator would make it unlikely that one would pull down a page that is about Thomas Huxley but not Aldous Huxley. But it would pull down pages about Aldous, whether his name was expressed as

Huxley, Aldous


Aldous Huxley.

That query would be written as:

Aldous NEAR/2 Huxley.

Or I could have used the BEFORE and AFTER operators to cover the different ways citations present the name of an author:

(Aldous BEFORE/2 Huxley) OR (Aldous AFTER/2 Huxley)

Perhaps I might write this query:

(Aldous NEAR/2 Huxley) AND "Eyeless in Gaza"

if I were searching for references about one of his novels.

See the logic? And remember that DEVONagent reads everything in lower case.

I spent several days with Aldous Huxley many years ago when he visited a research institute at the University of Texas. Although I enjoyed reading Brave New World, I can’t stand Eyeless in Gaza. I don’t share Aldous Huxley’s pessimism about science, technology or, for that matter, humanity. Philosophically I’m more akin to his relative, Thomas Huxley.