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POLIsearch - FAQ about POLIsearch and SFX

Introduzione FAQ su POLIsearch e SFX english version FAQ about POLIsearch and SFX FAQ su Proxy english version FAQ about Proxy

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This page contains the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) relating to POLIsearch, the portal allowing Politecnico di Milano users to improve their use of subscribed and free electronic resources, and to the services available through SFX ( ) for the electronic sources that can be accessed with POLIsearch.

1. What is POLIsearch? What does it offer me?

POLIsearch is a service available to Politecnico di Milano users for improving use of electronic resources. POLIsearch is based on MetaLib® and SFX®; it is a portal for discovering resources, a meta-engine to search them and take advantage of SFX integrated linking services. POLIsearch offers users:

  • a single point of access to online resources (subscribed or free) through a simple query interface
  • the possibility to query multiple resources simultaneously with a single search, using the Quick Search and MetaSearch modules
  • access to online subscribed electronic journals, and to free publications available on the Web.
  • a personal area, available if authenticated as a registered user, where you can organize your resources, store searches, set alerts and define viewing modes.

2. What does “resources” mean; What resources can be accessed through POLIsearch?
The term “resources” is used to indicate all types of electronic resources on the Web, that are searchable, e.g. bibliographic databases, journal archives, library catalogues, document repositories etc. POLIsearch allows access to both Politecnico di Milano subscription resources (databases, electronic journals, e-books, encyclopaedias and dictionaries) and selected free resources. There are over 400 resources in the portal. Users can value a new resource to be useful and suggest it be included in the portal by writing to portale@biblio.polimi.it

3. What is the relationship between the University OPAC and POLIsearch?
The University OPAC is the primary tool for searching documents held by the University Library System. POLIsearch represents a starting point for further exploration and research with similar tools (other online library catalogues) or with other types of search tools (databases, journal archives, eBooks etc.). POLIsearch does not replace the University Catalogue (OPAC), but integrates it within the portal environment and makes it searchable in parallel with other, even dissimilar, resources

4. Who can use POLIsearch?
POLIsearch is available to all Politecnico di Milano institutional users (cf. the User types in the University Library System Service Charter). It may also be used from workstations within libraries.

5. Where can I find POLIsearch?
POLIsearch may be accessed through the University Library System site: www.biblio.polimi.it or following this link polisearch.biblio.polimi.it.

6. Can I use POLIsearch outside Politecnico di Milano?
POLIsearch is available from both inside the Politecnico di Milano campus and outside the University IP network. For complete access to the resources, it is recommended you be authenticated through the proxy service (cf. the FAQs on the University proxy and use of electronic resources).

7.What are the advantages if I access POLIsearch with authentication?
By authenticating into POLIsearch (clicking the icon  to the top left of the interface and inserting your username and password, obtainable through University single authentication) full access is granted to all Personal area functions: for example, saving search results, creating personal quicksets, setting alarms, customising viewing modes.

8. What is the difference between using a proxy to access POLIsearch and accessing through authentication?
Access via the University proxy (cf. the FAQs on the University proxy and use of electronic resources) allows use of POLIsearch in the same way as if access were from within the University network; hence, it is possible to access University subscribed documents and resources as though the user were using the University network. On the other hand, access by means of POLIsearch authentication (possible by clicking the icon  to the top right of the interface and inserting your username and password, obtainable through University single authentication) allows full use of the Personal Area. These forms of access may be combined. The most comprehensive and complete way to access POLIsearch from outside the university network is by means of authentication, either through a proxy or through POLIsearch.

9. I don't have a matriculation number for accessing the University services. How can I register for POLIsearch?
POLIsearch is a service provided for Politecnico di Milano users. The basic criteria by means of which users may be authorised for the services offered by Politecnico di Milano SBA libraries are indicated in the Service charter and in Authentication help

10. What search possibilities are available (Find resources, Find journals, Quick Search and MetaSearch)?
  • Find resources: it is useful to discover resources relevant to ones interests, e.g. resources can be located by category (or subject area) or by type, or even by combining these two criteria in order to identify specific resources such as databases, electronic journal collections, library and thesis catalogues, digital collections, open archives, sites relevant for a specific subject area. In the lists of names of resources generated by a search in this module, if the magnifying glass icon appears, it is possible to search directly within the resource from POLIsearch, thus exploiting SFX linking and search services (e.g. access to the full text of the article or document, if available). The native interface of the resource can also be accessed by clicking on the name of the resource. By clicking the icon it is possible to save resources in a personal electronic shelf where they can be grouped in a set for simultaneous searching simultaneously (if authenticated, the selected resources will be stored for all subsequent sessions). By clicking the icon , it is possible to view further details regarding the resource (a brief description, the resource language, search modes etc.).
  • Find journals: this is the module for identifying electronic journals and for accessing the full text of articles. By clicking the icon it is possible to view further details about the journals. It is important to mark that searches in the Find journals module generate lists of journal titles, while searches of individual articles may be searched within the individual journal, once identified. Journals may be searched by title, ISSN and category or subject scope.
  • Quick search: this is the simplest and fastest way to conduct meta-searches, i.e. querying predefined groups of resources (Quicksets) in a single action. These resource groupings are generally defined according to the subject area of resources.
  • Meta-search: this is similar to Quick Search, but with greater functionality and the possibility of controlling the selection of resources and managing results.

11. What is Quick Search?
Quick Search is the simplest way to run a search in a predefined group of resources (quickset), which may be searched simultaneously. It is possible to use quicksets created by the University Library Services, or personal quicksets, created by the users themselves authenticated as registered users (cf. question 17), through the Preferred Resources section in the Personal area. Clicking the name of the quickset displays information about the resources contained. By clicking the icon next to the name of the resources, it is possible to view further details of the resources making up the quickset (a brief description, the resource language, search modes etc.). After having selected a quickset, it is possible to perform two types of search:
  • simple: by inserting one or more keywords
  • advanced: by combining search terms in distinct fields

The results thus obtained may be displayed in three ways:

  • table format: shows the records in a table structure.
  • brief format: offers a brief description of the records.
  • full record: displays all the information for the record. Each record is displayed on a single page, and the search words are highlighted.
From the list of results, it is possible to access the native interface of the resource, save one or more records in the personal Electronic Shelf and use SFX in order to take advantage of its linking services (e.g. the full text of articles or information held by the University OPAC) as well as search services in related resources (e.g. the University catalogue, Google Scholar etc.).

12. What is Meta-Search?

Unlike Rapid Quick , Meta-Search allows selection of the resources to be queried simultaneously (up to a maximum of 10 resources) and refinement of search results. The "Select search type" selection menu is used to identify and select resources. The options available are:

  • Quicksets: the list of available Quicksets is shown (the ones predefined by the institute, and also personal quicksets that are made available to individual users that have registered and saved resources in “Preferred resources”).
  • Categories: a menu is shown, from which it is possible to select resources belonging to a category/sub-category
  • Find : here resources can be located through various methods, such as title, supplier, category, resource type and free-search with keywords.
  • New resources: this displays the resources that have recently been included in the portal.
By clicking the icon

it is possible to view further details regarding the resources (a brief description, the resource language, search modes etc.).
Just like Quick Search, Meta-Search also envisages two search types:

  • Simple: to search one or more keywords
  • Advanced: to search terms in combined fields

By default, the results obtained are presented in a combined list i.e. the list of results contains the records extracted from all resources (Consolidated list of results). By clicking on results by databases and selecting the name of the resource desired from the list, it is possible to display only results originating from the individual resource selected.
Results may be displayed in three ways:

  • table format: shows records in a table structure
  • brief format: offers a brief view of the record
  • Full record: displays all the information for the record. Each record is displayed on a single page, and the search words are highlighted.
From the list of results, it is possible to access the native interface of the resource, save one or more records in a personal folder and use SFX in order to take advantage of its linking services (e.g. the full text of articles or information held by the University OPAC) as well as search services in related resources (e.g. the University catalogue, Google Scholar etc.).

13. Why are certain resources searched directly from the POLIsearch interface while others are not?
When there is a magnifying glass icon next to the title of the resource , the resource may be searched directly from within POLIsearch, and at the same time as other resources, if desired (using Meta-Search). Due to their structure or the communication protocol used, certain of the POLIsearch resources are not compatible with this technology, but in any case may be accessed within their own interface by clicking on the title. Whenever possible, the POLIsearch staff will arrange for the addition of new resources that can be searched directly from the POLIsearch interface.

14. What are "search&link" resources?

Many resources present in the portal may be searched directly from the POLIsearch interface, and the results may be viewed and managed by remaining in the POLIsearch environment. However, more than a few resources are configured in such a way that the search is performed in POLIsearch but the results may only be viewed in the native interface of the resource, by clicking on Search&link resource results (on the Quick Search results page) or on View results for resource (on the Meta-Search results page). Due to their structure or the communication protocol used, other resources are not queried by the POLIsearch meta-engine, but are in any case only accessible in their interface by clicking on the name of the resource.

15. What terms must I use for searching? What is the POLIsearch search syntax?

Two search modes can be used in Quick Search and Meta-Search: Simple and  Advanced. In Simple Search mode the terms inserted are searched through all fields (i.e. the entire text) in the records, while in Advanced Search it is possible to select the fields (Title, Subject etc.) in which the search terms should appear, or even combine terms and fields using the logical operators AND, OR, NOT. Two types of logical combination are possible for terms in a single search line:

  • terms as keywords: simply insert the terms separated by a space. For example if you're searching: baroque architecture – you will find all the records for the resource queried containing both terms in any reciprocal position, adjacent or separated, and in any descriptive field of the records (if using Simple Search or All Fields in Advanced). If searching the same terms in Advanced, by selecting a specific field, e.g. the Title, you will find the records containing the terms in the selected field and with the same logic.
  • terms as phrases: if you use inverted commas to enclose terms for the search – e.g. if inserting “baroque architecture” – you will only find records containing both terms, one next to the other, and in the precise order indicated, in the entire text of the records (if using Simple Search or All Fields in Advanced) or in a single field if Advanced has been selected.

You can also truncate search terms in order to find occurrences of the root entered (e.g. by inserting the form: architect? - you can find: architect, architects, architecture … ). When searching Authors, if the standard form “surname, name” does not give any results, you can try truncating part of the start of the name (e.g., if you find nothing with the form: Smith James - try also: Smith J?
In general: carefully select your keywords and avoid using punctuation, articles, prepositions or insignificant parts in general (unless it is intended to proceed with a sentence type search). The majority of resources are in English, therefore use predominantly terms in this language for searching.

16. What differences and possibilities are there between a search from the POLIsearch interface and a search from the native interface for individual resources?
By means of a single interface and sole search syntax, POLIsearch makes it possible to query several sources simultaneously, if they are compatible with the technology used by POLIsearch (cf. questions 13 and 14). By using POLIsearch as a meta-engine, and hence managing the results in the portal environment, SFX linking and search services are available. Furthermore, thanks to the Personal area functions, it is possible to organize and manage results of searches, and compose customised groupings of resources to be queried.  However, the native interfaces of the individual resources offer broader and more flexible search, strategy configuration and results management functions.

17. What functions are available to me in the Personal area?
The "Personal area" function makes it possible to save not only search results, but also a list of preferred resources and the search strategies followed, set alarms and define display modes.
Once the results of a search are retrieved, they can be saved in the basket by clicking the function . The basket represents a folder in the Electronic Shelf and is emptied at the end of each session. However, accessing the portal as an authenticated user (cf. questions 7, 8, 9), makes it possible to retain the basket during the various sessions and to create and manage new folders. Records may be saved on your own local computer by clicking the icon or may be sent by email by clicking the icon . Once the resources to be searched are identified, by clicking the icon , it is possible to add them to your clipboard and create a collection (quickset) of preferred resources to be used for searching. This function is only available for authenticated users. It is possible to review all searches conducted during the current work session. Even after having abandoned the current session, thanks to the History function, by accessing the portal as an authenticated user it is possible to memorise search strategies and arrange for searches to be conducted periodically and receive the related updates.

18. What is SFX?
SFX is a linking tool which allows the user to retrieve a
document in full text mode or to access any additional services available for that article, starting from the bibliographic citation of the article traced to a database.

19. How is SFX used?
SFX is very simple to use: having searched a database and identified the citations for an article/document of interest, simply click the button with the SFX logo ( in the full list of the results; in the full record view) and a window will open with a menu containing the list of options and services available for that article/document:
  • in the case where the electronic version of an article is available the first option offered by SFX will be direct access to the full text.
  • if the electronic version is not available SFX makes it possible to:
    • verify the availability of the hardcopy version of the document in our libraries by consulting the University catalogue (OPAC)
    • or, if not traced locally, verify the availability of the document in other national libraries by consulting the National Catalogue of Periodicals (ACNP) and the National Library Service (SBN) catalogue.
    • where envisaged, connect to the EbscoHost Electronic Journals service to consult the journal indices.
    • trace other bibliographic references pertaining to the article author.
    • verify whether the article is cited in other publications.
    • send an information request to the Ask Service @your library.

Other potential services:

  • for periodicals:
    • trace additional commercial information through databases (Ulrich's)
    • activate a document supply (DD) request
  • for monographs:
    • activate search and acquisition services in online book sites (Amazon…)
activate an inter-library loan (ILL)request

20. Who can use SFX?
The SFX button and related services are available for all users authorised to access University electronic resources. Access to these resources is possible within the Politecnico network and from home via proxy.

21.On what technology is SFX based?

SFX is link-server technology produced by Exlibris and based on the OpenURL standard, developed in the 1990s by Herbert Van de Sompel and Oren Beit-Arie at the University of Ghent.
OpenURL: this is an Internet protocol for interoperability between resources which has become the NISO (National Information Standards Organization) standard. The SFX server accepts metadata from OpenURL, analyses it, intercepts the identity of the user and dynamically creates links to services connected with that particular resource.

22.Why does the SFX button not appear in the search results from certain databases?

This may be a resource that no longer supports the OpenURL standard ( for example the Italian legal databases).

23.Why does the SFX menu not have a link to the full text of the article in electronic format?

Possible reasons include:

  • The University does not have a subscription for online access to the journal. In this case, it is possible to check the availability of the printed version of the journal itself by searching in the collective catalogue or in other catalogues.
If the periodical containing the searched article is among those subscribed (electronic periodicals), the link to the journal via SFX might not be available because the system has not been configured correctly.

24. I selected " Go to the full text document…” but all I got was the journal homepage. Why?

SFX is configured so as to allow linking to the journal with as fine a resolution as possible, i.e. at the article level or the level of the issue/volume containing the article itself. However, for certain journals, this configuration is not possible due to the structure of the publisher's site, and in such cases SFX generally reverts to the journal indices or home pages. From here, the search must be conducted by navigating through the publishers site based on the bibliographic reference (year, volume number, home page...).

25.Who should I contact for further information?
Contact the Ask@your library service using the online form.

26. How can I obtain further in formation on POLIsearch and SFX?

For further information on POLIsearch and SFX you can:

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Ultimo aggiornamento: 15 giugno 2011
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