Page tree

Performing a search

To perform a search, type your search query into the search bar displayed at the top of the page, and click the Search button. The search will be executed, and you will be navigated to the search results page, where you can further refine your search.


Filters provided down the left-hand side of the search results page assist you in narrowing down your search results by specific vocabulary metadata values or attributes (e.g., subject or access method). The count of vocabularies matching each filter is displayed in parentheses to the right of the filter label.

To add a filter to your search, click the checkbox or filter label. Upon selecting the filter, the search will be updated to show only results which contain the selected filter. Repeat the process to add additional filters. 

Note that the display of the large filter categories (e.g. Subject and Publisher) are often truncated in order to optimise the search page display. Where a filter category list has been truncated, a View More… link is shown after the last displayed value. Click the link to show the complete list of values. Once expanded, a View Less… link is shown after the last displayed value. Click the link to truncate the list again.

Resetting a search

To clear a search, click the Reset search button displayed in the Current search section on the top left-hand side of the search results page. Resetting the search clears all search terms and filters, and sets all search results display preferences (e.g., sorting) back to default values. Note that the button is disabled when there is nothing to reset.

Sorting your search results

Whenever a query term is active, the default sort order for search results is Relevance, where each record in a search result is given a ranking based on how closely a record matches the entered search parameters. The records are then sorted by ranking highest to lowest. The default sort order can be changed using the Sort by: dropdown displayed in the search results header and footer. When no query terms have been entered, the default sort order is changed to 'Title A-Z', as no ranking can be applied.

The sort options are:

  • Relevance
  • Title A-Z
  • Title Z-A
  • Least recently updated
  • Most recently updated

Number of search results per page

By default, 15 records are displayed per search result page. If there are more than 15 records, they are displayed on subsequent pages. The number of records displayed per page can be changed using the Show: dropdown displayed in the search results header and footer. The pagination links displayed in the search results header and footer can then be used to navigate between pages.

Search result components

The vocabulary title, publisher(s) and in-context search term highlighting is displayed for each search result.

The in-context highlighting provides you with an easy way of understanding why a record has been returned by a search. The metadata field where the match was made is displayed in brackets at the end of the context snippet e.g. “(in subject)”. At most two context snippets are provided for each type of field, per search result. For example, the above image shows two snippets for the 'concept' field. Where no search terms have been entered for a search, the in-context search term highlighting is replaced with the first few lines of the vocabulary description.

The vocabulary title displayed in each search results is a hyperlink to the record view page for the vocabulary. Click the link to access the full record view for the vocabulary.

The widgetable label is displayed against any vocabulary which can be used the RVA Vocabulary Widget. Hover your mouse over the label to find out more.

Understanding search results

The complexity of the search functionality within Research Vocabularies Australia can often make it difficult to understand why certain results have been returned. This section aims to provide you with a basic understanding of how the search functionally works.


Research Vocabularies Australia applies stemming to the vocabulary metadata values stored in the search index. Stemming maps the various forms of a word back to the base, or stem word from which they derive. For example, in English the words "hugs", "hugging" and "hugged" are all forms of the stem word "hug". The stemmer replaces all of these terms with "hug", and that is the value that goes into the search index. This means that a query for "hug" will match the term "hugged", but not "huge".

Stemming is also applied to the query terms you enter. This will allow queries containing non stem terms, like "hugging", to match documents with different variations of the same stem word, such as "hugged". This works because both the index and query processes map to the same stem ("hug").

You can prevent your query terms from being stemmed by executing exact phase searches (see Advanced searching techniques below). 

Default search behaviour 

The following is the default search behaviour (e.g., no Advanced searching techniques applied) of Research Vocabularies Australia:

  • Searches for a single query term generate results containing any vocabularies which contain the entire word or the "stem" of the word in an indexed field. Refer to the Stemming section above.
  • Searches for multiple terms (i.e., space-separated) are treated as disjunctive queries: at least one term must match for a vocabulary to be included in the results.
  • The default sorting for searches with at least one query term is by ‘Relevance’, where each vocabulary in a search result is given a ranking based on how closely the vocabulary matches the entered parameters. 
  • The default sorting for searches with no query terms is by ‘Title A-Z’.
  • The following vocabulary metadata fields are analysed against your search terms:

    • Vocabulary title
    • Description
    • Notes
    • Concepts contained in the current version of the vocabulary (if available)
    • Top concepts
    • Subjects
    • Related entity titles/names (e.g., publisher)

Advanced searching techniques

Exact phrase searches

To perform an exact phrase search, enclose the entire phrase in double quotation marks, e.g. "ice sheet".

The case of the search phase/terms enclosed in quotes is not important, as query terms are converted to lowercase during search execution.

You can combine both exact and non-exact search terms, as well as Boolean operators e.g. "ice sheet" caps -shelf.

Note that the exact phase functionality also works with a single search term. This is useful where a search has returned results which do not exactly match your term due to stemming (see Understanding your search results). 

Boolean search operators

The following Boolean operators are supported by the Research Vocabularies Australia search.

Boolean OperatorAlternative SymbolDescription



Requires both terms on either side of the Boolean operator to be present for a match.

To search for vocabularies that contain 'algae' and 'bloom', use either of the following queries:

algae && bloom

algae AND bloom



The NOT operator excludes results that contain the term after NOT. The symbol ! can be used in place of the word NOT.

The following queries search for vocabularies that contain the phrase "medical microbiology" but do not contain the phrase "medical ethics":

"medical microbiology" NOT "medical ethics"

"medical microbiology" ! "medical ethics"



Requires that either term (or both terms) be present for a match. OR is the default search operator.

To search for documents that contain either "climate indicators" or just 'climate', use the query:

"climate indicators" climate

"climate indicators" OR climate



The + symbol (also known as the "required" operator) requires that the term after the + symbol exist somewhere in an indexed field in order for the query to return a match.

For example, to search for documents that must contain 'carbonates' and that may or may not contain 'pressure' use the following query:


+carbonates pressure



Prohibits the following term (that is, matches vocabularies that do not include that term). The - operator is functionally similar to the Boolean operator !.

For example, to search for vocabularies that contain the phrase "ice sheets" but not the phrase "ice shelf" use the following query:

"ice sheets" -"ice shelf"

When specifying Boolean operators with keywords such as AND or NOT, the keywords must appear in all uppercase.



  • No labels