wildcards and Job Alerts

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

wildcards and Job Alerts

Postby A.Tyrol » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:58 am

I am experimenting a bit with setting up Job Alerts of Science Careers, and with wildcards. I found it is abolutely necessary to use wildcards, because the search engine is very stringent (just searching for "postdoc" f.e. will not find jobs that contain the string "postdocs" but not "postdoc" - there's at least one real world example in the current database).

I have a question regarding the search functionality of the ScienceCareers website and what experiences others made with this. I post in the forum because I think it can be interesting to others who are also using Job Alerts, and I have no idea how to contact the team behind the search engine of ScienceCareers directly anyway.

I was trying out different queries containing phrases and wildcards. In particular, I tried to construct a query that let's me find jobs for postdocs. Considering how strict the search is, I want to find all job offers that satisfy the given discipline and location criteria, and also target postdocs, so it's necessary to account for many different spellings:

post doc
post docs

As the search engine supports wildcards ( ... ywords.asp), I thought a good phrase is "post*doc*".

However the results are confusing. Restricting to the Discipline "Genomics" and location "North America", I get 22 jobs for "post*doc*", but 44 (!) jobs or "postdoc*".

I.e. "postdoc*" finds more than "post*doc*".

Similarly, "postdoc" finds 6 jobs but "post*doc" only 1 job.

Is this a bug? Or, am I doing something wrong and should use wildcards differently?
User avatar
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: wildcards and Job Alerts

Postby Jim Austin » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:38 am


Searching for post*doc (for example) will find "post doc" and "post-doc" but it will not find "postdoc". Similarly, searching for "postdoc" will not return results containing either "post doc" or "post-doc"

So, each of those searches should usually yield independent results (except when the spelling is inconsistent within the ad itself, in which case the ad would show up in both searches). So, your experiment simply shows that the single-word form is more common than the hyphenated and two-word versions combined; "postdoc" (for example) appears more often than the sum of occurrences of "post doc" and "post-doc", and "postdoctoral" occurs more often than the sum of occurrences of "post doctoral" and "post-doctoral".

Make sense?

However, there do seem to be some oddities, which I've noticed for a while. Notice, for example, that while searching for "biochemistry" (keyword search; no limitations) yields 229 results (or did when I searched just now), searching for "bio*hemistry" gave no results at all. I can't explain that.

Jim Austin, Editor
Science Careers
Jim Austin
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: wildcards and Job Alerts

Postby P.C. » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:20 am

I am going to speculate that the wildcard "*", only works before or after but not between words or phrases. It looks like it works between spaces or punctuation breaks.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
Posts: 2439
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: David Lathbury and 14 guests