Help with text searching

Type what you are looking for in the text box and click the FIND button or press Return/Enter. There is no need to use any boolean terms, special characters or awkward syntax (like quotes, brackets, ANDs or ORs). The power of the search is greatly enhanced by using several words.

The Muscat search engine looks for the root of words, so it treats both the singular and plural form of a noun, or any tense of a regular verb, as the same word. To disable this feature proper nouns should be typed in with a capital letter. For example:

Ian Fleming

On clicking the FIND button you will get a list of documents that match your search, ranked in order of relevance. Muscat uses three methods to decide how important a document is: first is its unique probabilistic technique, which works out how relevant each word in your query is. It also takes the frequency of query terms in a document into account, as well as the proximity of words to each other.

You can use the PREVIOUS and NEXT buttons or the row of numbers to navigate between pages of results.

Each item can be clicked on to view that document. The colour graphics show in relative terms how likely the document is to match your enquiry.


The checkbox by each item is used to let the Muscat search engine know which of the results are relevant to your query. Mark as relevant those documents you are interested in - the more the better.

The search engine will immediately absorb this information, changing the weights it attaches to your search terms, so using NEXT and PREVIOUS once you have marked some documents will reorder the results to match your query more closely.

The real benefit of marking relevant documents comes using either the IMPROVE or EXPAND function, depending on how the search page you are using is set up.


Having marked a few documents you can now use the IMPROVE button to dramatically improve results. The search engine automatically suggests words related to your enquiry and generates a more focused search.


Alternatively, your system may feature an EXPAND button which also improves results once you have marked some documents as relevant. The search engine will suggest a list of words related to your query based on the documents you have marked. These words have been trimmed of their endings, so don't worry if the spelling is a little strange.

Select the words you wish to add in order to improve your query. Windows users should hold down the 'Ctrl' key to select multiple words. The ADD button will generate an improved search.


Although the Muscat search engine provides excellent results from plain English requests, more experienced users may value the ability to fine tune searches with the following facilities:

If a word is especially important to you, you can type it with a plus sign in front of it; for example:


This will give the word a very high importance in the search, so that documents containing the word will appear at the top of the list.

Conversely if you wish to look for documents that do NOT contain a particular word, type the word with a minus sign in front of it; for example:


This will reduce the relevance score of articles containing the word so that they are unlikely to appear near the top of the list.

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