IsisCB Explore Tutorial: Index boxes

Let’s talk about the indexes in IsisCB Explore. These are the powerhouses of the entire system, and we’ve designed the new layout to allow you to take maximum advantage of them.

To begin with, the index boxes are the boxes on right of your screen in most views. In some views, you must click on the blue Indexes tab in order to see them. These boxes contain lists of people, places, and terms relevant to your search or relevant to the citation or other object you are focused on.

The index boxes have a dual functionality. In designing these boxes we debated a long time about whether this dual use would cause frustration and confusion. In the end, we decided to keep it because it packs so much power in its punch. Indeed, our indexes do things that few other databases can replicate.

This short tutorial is meant to help you understand how to get the most out of them.

In the screenshot above, I show some of the index boxes for my search of “evolution” and “politics”. You’ll notice the dual functionality immediately: clickable links in blue on both the left and the right of each entry.

Clicking on the left blue link—the one with an empty box beside a number in parentheses—will narrow your search results to include only those entries that contain this indexed item. We call these filters. Once you’ve done that, the term will appear at the top of the box with the box in blue showing a check mark in it. (See 20th century, above.)

In the example here, let’s look at the author “Paul, Diane B.” If we click on the left filter for her, it will constrain the search results, and show only the two titles that Diane Paul has authored related to the search “evolution” and “politics” and the filter “20th century.”

By contrast, the blue link on the right of a term—the box with the arrow pointing up and to the right—takes you away from the current page altogether, to a separate page for this index term. We call these object links. If you click on the object link for Diane Paul, you will be taken to her record in the IsisCB, where you will be able to see all of the works that she’s authored and any other information we have about her. (See her page below.)

The value of being able to go to these authority pages from anywhere in your search is that you can immediately assess this person, institution, or concept. If you click on the Indexes tab from this page (as I have done in the image above), you now see something even more interesting. You get a holistic picture of Paul’s scholarly focus. You see her primary historical work is on eugenics, evolution, genetics, and politics. In addition, you see a list of some of the historical people she’s worked on. You can even see the journals she’s published in. Scrolling down will give you even more information: places, institutions, time periods, book publishers, and even a map showing the focus of her scholarship.

All in all, if you want to find a way to assess her credentials in the field, this kind of information can be invaluable.

From this example, I hope you can see why we think that the double use of these lists puts this database in a different league from other search engines. In the course of browsing citations, you can gain valuable insights into the people and topics you encounter along the way.

There’s one other point you may be puzzled by. When you look at the index boxes next to a citation, the familiar filter icon with its empty box and number of related citations does not appear. Instead, you have a magnifying glass (as shown here). When that appears, then you are unable to filter the list. Instead, the system will open a window with a search for the object or name.

Let us know if you like what we’ve done.

Happy researching!