Semantic Searching Appendix (Draft for comment)


Relationship block – This is the block created when adding a search term from a controlled source (thesaurus or other controlled vocabulary file). For example,

This relationship block has been created by selecting the controlled place term ‘China’ from an auto complete search box.

The symbol can be used to add a new relationship block or to extend the relationship block with additional terms. It appears after a relationship block and at the end of a search phrase. A search phrase is the completed search.

Finally a search term which is not validated by a controlled term is a free text keyword search.  This will search controlled and uncontrolled vocabulary across records. It looks like this;

The user can change the relationship field to another available relationship for that concept. The concept can also be changed to another term within the same terminology range.

Example Search

A search will start with an auto complete search box which looks across all controlled sources (Thesauri and other designated controlled vocabulary sources). Scope notes and any pictures are displayed. (note example uses freebase widget)

A user must select a suggested term to confirm that they wish to use a controlled term. This initial search starts the search phrase and can have two outcomes. Firstly, the search phrase can start with a free text search;

Clicking on the symbol creates a new search box

This new search box acts like the initial search box allowing autocomplete across all controlled vocabularies or allowing another free text search. Free text searching defaults to an AND operator and free text terms are given quote marks.


A symbol next to a free text search which is not at the end of the search phrase can be used to add further keyword searches. Auto-complete will still be available but whatever the search term typed or selected, it will act as a free text search.

If a new concept is chosen from a new search box then another relationship block is created.

The symbol within the search phrase and next to a relationship block can be used to extend the relationship block with additional terms from the same vocabulary. Auto-complete is available for that terminology only.

If the user selects at the end of the line then a term from any thesauri can be auto-completed. However, if a term from the same vocabulary as before is selected then the same block is applied as if the use simply extended the previous relationship block. The  symbol only appears after a full relationship block, at the end of a first keyword search and at the end of the search phrase.

When adding terms to an existing relationship block, free text input is not allowed.

Adding addition terms to a relationship block defaults to OR. If one of these OR’s is changed to an AND then all OR’s within that section will also change to AND.

Relationship fields within a relationship block can be changed to another valid relationship by clicking on the drop down and selecting another listed relationship.

A term within a relationship block, like the place China, can also be altered to another controlled place term with auto-complete. However, in this case a controlled term cannot be replaced by a free text keyword.

Deleting a Block

Any block on the search phrase can be deleted. The user must place the cursor at the end of a relationship block, including the extended block if applicable and using the delete key.


Thesaurus options

When searching the user should be able to see the hierarchical position that a term has in a thesaurus. An option control next to the search phrase can select either exact terms or all narrower terms.