TOOLS: Smarter Searching

Science  22 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5721, pp. 475
DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5721.475d

Even if you judiciously choose key words and skillfully deploy “ands” and “nots,” searching a bibliographic database can return a torrent of hits or skip the paper you want. Researchers looking for an alternative way to bore into the Caenorhabditis elegans literature can glide over to Textpresso, a search engine from the operators of the nematode compendium WormBase.

Most bibliographic tools only scan abstracts. But Textpresso digs into the full text of more than 5000 nematode articles, along with some 18,000 abstracts from meetings, the Worm Breeder's Gazette, and other sources. And Textpresso lets you narrow your search by categorizing key words and specifying their functions and relationships to other terms. For instance, instead of trawling for all papers on the gene daf-2, which governs worm longevity, you can net only publications that record daf-2 activity in particular types of cells or that identify genes it interacts with. The site includes a similar search engine for the fungus Neurospora crassa and prototypes for fruit flies and papers from the Journal of Neurobiology. And other teams have launched Textpresso-based libraries for several model organisms, including yeast.

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