database is both more powerful and more complex than a traditional
web search. It is
likely you are used to doing keyword searches, where you type in a
word or words, and then sort through hundreds or thousands of
“hits” to find what you are looking for. These kinds of searches require little work to get results,
but then lots of work to go through those results to find
meaningful information. eHRAF
searching is almost the inverse of that system; setting up an
effective search takes some time and thought, but doing so will
give you much better “hits.”
The difference is that, while you can become more
proficient and faster at setting up effective searches in eHRAF,
other search engines never learn to give you more intelligent
Figure 10: Text Search Page - Click to
order to search eHRAF effectively, it helps to know the kinds of
information available and how it is organized.
As mentioned before, most of the documents in eHRAF are ethnographies,
meaning that most cultural information will be about a single
culture, rather than a group of cultures.
Thus, you are likely to find documents that describe herbal
remedies among the Blackfoot, but you are not likely to find
documents about herbal remedies among Native North Americans.
as we mentioned in earlier, it is important to understand that the
documents in eHRAF are indexed with OCM
Subject Codes at the paragraph level.
Unlike other search engines that search an entire text as
one unit, eHRAF searches millions of individual paragraph units
across hundreds of thousands of documents.
If you search for more than one word, the eHRAF search
engine will usually look for paragraphs that contain both words.
while you will see a second option in the Search feature (eHRAF Source Bibliography), we will only be learning about the Text
Search in this tutorial.
Search Sections: OCMs, Words/Phrases, and Cultures
are three parts to an eHRAF search: OCM Subject Codes, Exact Word
or Phrase, and Culture/OWC. In
designing a search, you may use any, a combination, or all of
these sections to find information.
However, for the purpose of this tutorial, we will most
often be working with each section individually.
Also, further information on each search section is
available by clicking on “Help” in the section’s title bar
in the eHRAF database.
Operators (and, or, not)
both the OCM search and the exact word or phrase search, there are
drop-down boxes with the Boolean terms “and,” “or,” and
terms can either restrict or expand your search, as described
means both OCMs/terms must be present >> restricts
means either OCM/term must be present >> expands
means an OCM/term must not be present >>
restricts a search
using multiple search sections simultaneously, you are
automatically using the “and” term and limiting your search.
Thus, you will find more documents simply searching for the
OCM code 773 (mythology), than if you search for the OCM code 773
and a word such as “wolf.”
an example, we will be searching for the following information:
a culture from the Northwestern Plains of the United States
mythology (major subject)
the wolf as a mythical creature (narrower area of major
your experience with the Browse function of eHRAF, you have
already found at least one document that has the information on
are looking for (The Sun God’s Children). This knowledge will help you evaluate the quality of various
OCM Subject Codes,