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Bracton Searching Tips
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Terms are NOT case-sensitive; searching on disseisin, DISSEISIN,
and DiSSeIsIN will produce the same results.
Word searches with wildcards
Sometimes you want to find a number of variants on a "base word" or stem. This search engine supports a limited wildcarding scheme in which an asterisk takes the place of all letters. Thus base* would match all words beginning with base, eg. baseball, baseless, baseboard, and Basel.
Combining search terms with Boolean operators
You can use a number of so-called 'boolean' operators to combine your search terms in various ways:
For any given document the term scores and occurrence scores are combined by multiplying them for each term occurring in each document; these per-term results are then summed to give an overall score for the document. The scores are then normalized by assigning a value of 100 to the highest and rearranging the others accordingly.
As with any generalized search engine used by specialists on specialized
material this approach will, from time to time, yield some results which
seem anomalous. To do much better requires the development of engines which
are tailored to the material being searched, which is usually impractical
and always expensive. In general, the non-specific approach used
by Isearch works well.
Searching for words with ligatures (eg.æ,Æ)
The advanced engine has trouble indexing and searching on words which begin with the ligatures æ,Æ. The problem does not occur if the ligature occurs in the middle or at the end of the word, only if it is the leading character in a term or phrase.
This is a difficult-to-repair bug in the Isite/Isearch software. The developers and maintainers of the software are working on it, and we expect that ultimately it will be repaired. In the meantime we suggest that you use the simple search engine. It doesn't support phrase searches or the fancier boolean operators, but you can use an AND search to approximate a search by phrase.
Searching for long phrases made up of common words
It seemed to us that the best way to "chunk" Bracton's text for this electronic version was to divide it at the page breaks of the Thorne edition. This is a much finer division than is usually made in online texts, and one which is more or less arbitrary in terms of content; breaks can occur in the middle of paragraphs and sentences, which they would not if we were (say) dividing into tractates. One side effect, then, is that there is some chance that a phrase search will fail (or return fewer results than it should) because some instances span page breaks. We suggest searching on the least common word in the phrase as a cross-check; other strategies (such as searching on subphrases combined in different ways) may be more or less useful depending on your particular search.
Searching for phrases containing wildcards
An attempt to search for a phrase which includes a wildcard such as
"bees in hiv*" will be interpreted as a search for a phrase
containing the literal string hiv*, that is, something which has
an actual asterisk in it. Probably the best approach is to break
the search up into components, eg. "bees in" AND hiv*. While
this is not quite as restrictive and likely to return some false positives
it will work as an approximation.