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The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large.
EBSCOhost is generally easy to use and readily approachable, but frequently lacking in support for advanced features, such as thesauri and classification code definitions, compared to other literature search systems (such as Dialog, for example). The learning curve is very shallow, and few functions require a great deal of time to grasp. The default Basic search interface is emblematic of the way users interact with EBSCOhost: it presents itself initially as a simple, Google-style search bar: one text box, one button. A user remotely familiar with search engines will recognize it immediately. Even expanding the Basic search with the Search Options bar only introduces a moderate level of difficulty.
The corresponding drawback associated with EBSCOhost’s ease of use is a lack of options. For example, only three options are available for sorting results. The resulting drop-down menu is pleasantly short, but additional sorting options beyond relevancy, date and source such as by subject or author would be welcome. Another example is the date-limiting slider bar. Allowing the user to click and drag a pair of sliders to compress and expand the date range does make the process easy. Unfortunately, it also limits the user to setting the year, not the month or day. Even digging into further menus only ever allows month and year limiting. Limiting by exact day of publication is never available. For validity searchers working with a critical date, this is an insurmountable limitation of the interface. The system for storing strings is also simple enough to cover a majority of needs. However, in the case that a searcher wants to review a search conducted earlier, EBSCOhost cannot save the result list. Even setting aside the imprecision of the date limiting function, there is no way to ensure that additional resources added later but dated earlier won’t contaminate the results.
Finally, a note on the Visual interface: for patent searchers, there is not much value here. A 250 result limit is far too low, especially when results are truncated by a proprietary relevance metric and sorted by proprietary keywords and subjects generated by an internal team of researchers. The probability of missing an important result because it was number 251 is simply too high. Additionally, the graphic focus of the interface on colors and shapes is visually pleasing but functionally inefficient and too slow for a searcher who might want to consider thousands of total results.