OAIster consists of a large number of records that describe digital resources. When you access a record, you will be able to click on a link to take you to the digital resource. Learn more about what a digital resource is.

Currently, we offer simple searching and results display. See what we plan to do for the next phase of OAIster.

There are two methods for searching in OAIster:

1. Enter a word or phrase in "Search all fields." You are searching through all the fields that describe digital resources. See tips for how to search.

2. Enter a word or phrase in one or more specified fields. For instance, you can search for "emily dickinson" in the Author field, which limits your search to just that field instead of all fields. Entering words or phrases in multiple boxes limits your search further. See tips for how to search.

The specified fields you can choose among are:

  • Keyword: This will find words or phrases in any field, just like in "Search all fields."
  • Title: This will look for titles of books, articles, journals, audio files, etc., in the title field of the digital resource record.
  • Author: This will look for authors of books, creators of paintings, institutions responsible for a pamphlet, etc., in the author field of the digital resource record.
  • Subject: This will look for words or phrases that have been used to describe the topical nature of a digital resource. These are subjects used by the resource publisher to classify the resource.
  • Resource Type: This will look for certain kinds of resource types, i.e., text, image, audio, video. This is not a fully comprehensive search due to limitations in normalizing this field.

Searching Tips

  • Words and Phrases: If you search a field using more than one word, the words will be treated as a phrase and searched together, e.g., entering "fancy dress" in the Keyword field (without the quotes) will find records that have the word "fancy" next to "dress."
  • Inverted Author Names: Authors may be in inverted order, so if you don't find appropriate resources using one method, e.g., "emily dickinson," try it inverted, e.g., "dickinson emily."
  • Word Variations: Use an asterisk with a word stem to find variations on the word, e.g., searching for "civ*" will match "civ," "civil," "civic," "civilization," and "civilian."
  • Punctuation: All other punctuation, other than "*", will be ignored, e.g., searching for "anti-slavery" will match both "anti-slavery" and "anti slavery."
  • Capitalization: Capitalization is ignored, e.g., "English" and "english" are searched the same way.

Search Results

There is a search summary box at the top of your search results page which repeats the words you used in your search, tells you how many records you found, and how many records you are viewing. From this summary, you can click on the "revise your search" link, which takes you back to your original search page.

"Sort by" allows you to sort all the results you received by title, author, date ascending (oldest first) or date descending (newest first). The default sort order is by title.

Each record can include all or some of the following fields. Search results will return all of the fields present for a particular record; not every field is present for every record.

  • Title: The title of a book, an article, a journal, an audio file, etc. (Sometimes titles look like authors, which is an artifact of cataloging the resource.)
  • Author: The author of a book, creator of a painting, institution responsible for a pamphlet, etc.
  • Publisher: Where the resource was originally published, e.g., "Engineering Research Institute, University of Michigan."
  • Year: The year the resource was originally published.
  • Resource Type: The type of resource, e.g., "text," "image." This field may also indicate more specific descriptions of type, such as "report" or "photograph."
  • Resource Format: The particular format of a resource type, e.g., if the resource type is "text," the resource format may be "HTML."
  • Language: The language(s) the resource was originally written or spoken in. Often these languages are in code. You may want to check this resource to decipher any three-letter codes you find.
  • Note: Any information that doesn't fit into other fields is generally placed in a note. This field may provide information on table of contents, history and related information.
  • Subject: The subjects that have been used to describe the topical nature of a resource by a resource publisher.
  • URL: The link that takes you to the resource itself.
  • Rights: The access and copyright information for the resource, as determined by the institution that manages the collection.
  • Institution: The record is managed by an institution, usually in a particular collection. This information is in the record, but not presently clickable (see about the next phase of OAIster). View a list of the institutions and collections that OAIster harvests their records from.


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