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I'm working on a search engine for bibliographic data, and I'm trying to understand the use cases for an advanced search feature. Typically seen on the web, this feature will search specific fields (instead of all fields), like Title, Authors, Publisher, Year, etc..

The first use case that comes to mind, is when a user is looking for a specific record, and knows some or all of the information. Using the advanced search will increase the accuracy that the search engine returns the result they are looking for.

Are there others?

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Be careful of advanced search. A lot of products end up having it simply because purchasers (as opposed to users) expect the feature... Particularly in the bibliographic space.

Many of the use cases are better served by a faceting system, as this more accurately maps to people's search then refine mode of discovery than using advanced search. Partly because it will only occur to a user that a term is ambiguous after they make the search and see the initial results, such as with the cancer and John Smith examples above.

One use case you will find is people using bibliographic search who were introduced to it pre-Google or pre-web have been taught to use advanced search because basic search was poor in those days. Old habits dies hard in this regard, people with this experience will often look for advanced search first and this is particularly true in academia and among librarians, for example.

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I think there is one where a user is searching for a topic, but there are a lot of extraneous results from a general search. So I might want to find books about - say - astrological sign Cancer, but not anything to do with the illness.

Or I want to find books about John Smith, but not books by ( a different ) John Smith.

There are probably a number of use cases out of this.

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+1 for topic of disambiguation – Roger Attrill Sep 24 '11 at 19:26

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