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Learn how to conduct searches in SPIN

This is the second in a series of updated posts (the first is here) designed to help Miami University faculty, staff, and students learn to use the SPIN funding opportunity database to find potential sources of funding for their research, scholarly, and creative projects.

The basics

You do not need a profile to conduct searches in SPIN. All Miami faculty, staff, and students have access to SPIN’s search functions while they are on campus or connected to Miami’s VPN. You will need a profile if you want to save your searches and if you want to receive automated emails alerting you to opportunities relevant to your saved searches. For more about accessing SPIN and creating a profile, read this post.

SPIN has three types of searches — text, keyword, and advanced. The text search interface is displayed by default when you first access SPIN. The keyword and advanced search interfaces can be accessed by hovering over Search in the black menu ribbon near the top of the screen and then selecting the desired interface from the drop-down menu.

Text search

Text search works just like searching for something on Google or another search engine.

Simply type in your search terms and then click the Locate Funding button to the right of the search box.

You can use operators to help ensure your search returns more relevant results. The following “Text Search Help” information can be found by hovering over Help in the black menu ribbon near the top of the screen and selecting Search Help and then Text Search from the drop-down menus:

SPIN’s Text Search allows you to search all the text associated with opportunity records by simply typing the word(s) you want to search for in the search box and clicking Locate Funding. Your search criteria will be matched against opportunity title, sponsor name, synopsis, objectives, funding opportunity number, contact email address, keywords, and several other fields. Inflectional forms of search terms are automatically included. For example, if you type in ‘test’, programs will be searched for ‘test’, ‘tests’, ‘tested’, and ‘testing’ by default.

You can also build complex searches using various logic and grammar parsing. The commands can be combined together, along with parenthetical logic to dictate the order of operations, to build complex queries to precisely define your search. For example, you might search for: “science education” OR STEM –cells to find all opportunities (based on your preferences and filter settings) that include the words science and education adjacent to one another in that order as well as opportunities that have the word stem in them but will exclude opportunities that include stem cell.

The table below lists common examples of the syntax that can be used when constructing text queries.

Example Input Description
Scientific research Searches for records containing ‘scientific’ and ‘research’ or their inflectional forms.
Scientific OR research Searches for records containing ‘scientific’ or ‘research’ or their inflectional forms.
“Scientific research” Wrapping terms in double quotes searches for records containing the phrase ‘scientific research.’
Scientific -research Inserting a minus symbol before a term searches for records containing ‘scientific’ and not ‘research.’
+scientific Inserting a plus symbol before a term performs search after disabling expansion for inflectional forms.
Scient* Appending an asterisk to a term invokes a wildcard search: searches for records containing ‘scient’ and any suffix.
<scientific research> Wrapping terms in angled brackets searches for records containing ‘scientific’ and ‘research’ and ranks results by the proximity of the two.

Keyword  search

A major advantage to using the keyword search is that you can be sure you are searching for records using the same vocabulary that InfoEd staff use when they catalog the records. That’s because you will select the terms from a pick list provided within SPIN.

To access keyword search, hover over Search in the black menu ribbon and select Keyword Search from the drop-down menu.

Next, click the Select Keywords link above the search box.

In the resulting pop-up window, you will see a list of keywords in the box labeled “CATEGORY 1.”

Click on any keyword to see a list of sub-categories, which will be displayed in a box labeled “CATEGORY 2.” Any keyword in the “CATEGORY 2” box that has a > next to it can be clicked to produce a list of sub-sub-categories, which will be displayed in a box labeled “CATEGORY 3.”

To select any keyword, check the box next to it in the “Choose keywords” box that appears below the categories boxes. Selected keywords will be displayed in the “Selected keywords” box to the right of the “Choose keywords” box.

To remove a keyword from the “Selected keywords” column, simply click on the keyword in that box.

When all the desired keywords are in the “Selected keywords” column, click the Save Selections and Continue button in the upper right of the pop-up window.

The pop-up window will close and your chosen keywords will be automatically populated into the search box. Be sure the desired operator is selected (“AND” searches for only those records that contain all of the chosen keywords; “OR” searches for records that contain at least one of the selected keywords). Finally, click the Locate Funding button to display the search results.

Advanced search

Advanced search is the most flexible search option because it gives you access to every field in the database record — from contact fax number to sponsor type.

To access advanced search, hover over Search in the black menu ribbon and select Advanced Search from the drop-down menu.

Advanced search works by selecting a database field and an operator from drop-down menus, and then entering a search term.

The logic of the operators will change to be consistent with the record field selected. For instance, when “Full Program” is selected the logic is “Contains”/”Does Not Contain.” When “Deadlines” is selected the logic is “Equal To”/”Greater Than”/”Greater Than or Equal To”/”Less Than”/”Less Than or Equal To”/”Not Equal To.”

With some record fields (e.g., “Sponsor”), when you begin typing in the search term field, SPIN will employ predictive text to offer suggestions. To select a suggestion, simply click on it.

To search an additional field at the same time, click on the Add New button near the top of the page. You can continue using the Add New button to add as many fields to your search as you’d like. You can remove a field from your search by clicking on the x in the far right of its row.

Once you have added the desired fields, click the Locate Funding button.

Saving  searches

To save searches, you must have a profile and you must be signed in (more here). There are a couple of reasons you might want to save a search:

  • So that you can run it again at a later time with a single click.
  • So that you receive automated emails alerting you to opportunities that match your search.

Any time you conduct a text, keyword, or advanced search while you are signed into SPIN, you will see a “Save” button to the right of the “Locate Funding” button on the search results page. To save your search, click the Save button, fill in the requested information and make the desired selections in the resulting pop-up window, and then click the Save Changes button.

Note that the pop-up window contains this question: “Would you like to configure SMARTS automation?” SMARTS automation is a function that allows you to automatically receive updates when existing results from this particular search are updated or when new results for this particular search are added. To enable this feature, select HTML or Plain Text from the upper drop-down menu, adjusting the notification frequency in the lower drop-down menu. (This feature can also be enabled and adjusted in the “Funding Alerts” menu.)

Working with saved searches

To view your saved searches, hover over Saved Searches in the black menu ribbon and select Manage Saved Searches from the drop-down menu. To re-run a saved search, click the icon in the “Run” column (far left). To delete a saved search, click on the trash can icon in the “Delete” column (far right). When you’re finished, click the Save Changes button.

Next time

In the next SPIN post, we’ll show you how to work with records and bookmarks and how to create reports.

Magnifying glass image by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license


2 thoughts on “Learn how to conduct searches in SPIN

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