wildcards and Job Alerts

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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?
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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.

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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.
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