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Research Tips

You can use these tips to find the information you need more quickly. There are three types of research in the Best Practice Database.

There are two main ways to find information on the site: 1) Key word searches (see I-III) For key word searches, the Basic Search is available from both the Members Area page (with a larger box) and the top left of the navigation tool bar (with a smaller box). Advanced Search can be accessed by clicking on the link that is located to the right of both basic search boxes. The search function in the left navigation bar also allows you to "Search Entire Site" for related documents or reports, or just "Search Reports," or just "Search Database" for documents. 2) Browsing by category (see IV). You can browse by category by going to Browse Database under the top left search box on the left navigation bar. Print the Category List (pdf) of categories and subcategories under Benefits on the navigation bar.

You can return to the Best Practice Database Members Area page at any time by clicking the "Search Site" magnifying glass icon Search the Site icon at the top of any page.

I. General Tips

Both basic and advanced searches search the document, title, and fields such as the companies profiled (benchmark class) and industries represented in the study. The only exception is in Advanced Search if you elect to "Find in the title only." Use these tips to refine your key word searches.

Use Boolean Operators.

Boolean operators can help you either expand or narrow a search. Below is a list of the Boolean operators, examples, and whether they serve to expand or narrow search results.

OperatorExamplesEffect on Search Results
ORsupply OR chain Expands results to find documents with any of the listed words.
AND or &supply AND chain = supply chain = supply & chainNarrows results. AND is the default Boolean operator; it is automatically inserted in between two words, unless those words are enclosed in quotes. An ampersand is equivalent to an AND search.
AND NOTsupply AND NOT chain Narrows results to exclude documents with the word or quoted phrase following NOT. If you use more than one word after AND NOT, use quotes or parentheses.
Edit Your Existing Search.

If you get too many or too few search results after conducting a Basic Search, you may edit your existing search from: a) the top left search box in the navigation bar and/or b) the bottom of the search results page.

Use Parentheses for Complex Searches.

You can use parentheses to group search phrases together. For example, (manager or supervisor) and (customer or client or member) (supply chain management) or (vendor relationship management)

Find Key Words within Documents.

To find the location and frequency of key words within a PDF document, click on the binoculars icon and type in a key word in the Find What box. A root word will also find its word variants; employ will find employee. To find next, click on the icon of the binoculars with an arrow.

To find the key words within an HTML-based document, go to your browser menu to select Edit and then Find and type in a key word in the Find What box. Click the "next" button to find the next place on the page where that word appears.

Access Related Research from the Same Subcategory.

When you are in a Database document, you will see a series of links that comprise the "breadcrumb navigation" path that shows under which subcategories that document was primarily classified. If you click on the last subcategory on the right, you will be taken to a list of all documents that are also classified in that same subcategory. Another way to access other research in the same subcategory is to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see Related Research.

If you find a document that is a real "hit" for your area of interest, this is another good way (besides Related Research links--described below) to get to other documents that are likely to be "hits."

Identify Related Research through Bundles.

In addition to individual Database documents, some Database "documents" are actually collections of many related documents. These bundles include documents culled from many research initiatives that represent a more comprehensive view of a subject. The documents typically span more than one subcategory area in the Database.

Save Documents to Your Local Drive.

To save an entire PDF document onto your local or network drive, right click on the PDF document and select "save target as." To save an HTML document (where the entire document appears on the document page), first click on "Printable Version" in the upper right "Research Info" box. This option allows you to see the document without the left navigation bar or the top site tabs. Then choose "Save As" from the file menu. Alternatively, you may select the entire document (control-A), copy it (control-C) and then paste it (control-V) into a Word document. You may share Best Practice Database documents with others in your company.

II. Tips to Expand Your Search Results

One search strategy is to start broadly and then get more specific. This tips will help you increase your search results.

Use General Terms as Key Words.

Use words that are commonly used across industries and companies. Avoid jargon. You do not have to worry about capitalization; unlike member usernames and passwords, key word searches are not case-sensitive. If one word does not yield enough results, try an alternative word (see examples below), do an OR search (see #3) or use the Thesaurus (see #4).

Examples: Instead of: key account managementTry: customer relationship management
expertsthought leaders
organisation [UK]organization [US]

Note that basic and advanced searches automatically use word variants (or stemming) to find different forms of root words. For example, typing employ will also find employment and vice versa. You may want to just use the root word.

Avoid Unnecessary Words.

Generally the fewer the words you use in a key word search, the more search results you will get. Extraneous words can unnecessarily exclude documents that may be of interest to you. Words that are too general, however, may be in most documents and will not decrease your search results by much.

Examples:best practicemetric
managercase study
Use the Boolean Operator OR.

In the Basic Search box, use OR to separate interchangeable or alternative words or synonyms for which you would like documents with any of the words. Generally, the more words you type in your OR search string, the more results you will have.

In Advanced Search, the "Any words" button is the equivalent of an OR search.

Employ the Thesaurus for Alternative Words.

Instead of generating your own alternative words or using similar words to describe the same topic using an OR search, you can use the Thesaurus option in Advanced Search. This option also corrects for misspellings and provides for more search flexibility. Simply check the "yes" button to use the Thesaurus.

III. Tips to Narrow Your Search Results

The maximum number of search results is 250 or twenty-pages of ten documents each. If you get 250 search results or another unwieldy number, you can further narrow your search results using the following tips.

Use the Boolean Operators AND and AND NOT.

In the Basic Search, use AND between words or use simply a space between additional key words to find documents or bundles that must contain all of those key words. You can get additional ideas for words to refine your search by viewing the titles and abstracts of some of the documents from your original search results.

In Advanced Search, the "All words" button is the equivalent of an AND search.

AND NOT will limit your search to the words before the AND and exclude all documents and bundles that contain the words after the word NOT. If you use more than one word before or after the AND NOT, use parentheses or quotes.

Put Quotes around Phrases.

Place phrases in quotes to look for those words together (in that order) in the document or bundle. This tactic can significantly reduce the results of your search. Make sure the phrase is general or used frequently enough to yield search results.

Examples"customer relationship management"
"thought leader"
"internal communications"

In Advanced Search, the "Exact phrase" button is the equivalent of searching with a quoted phrase.

Search in Title Only.

In Advanced Search, you have the option of searching for documents or bundles that only have a specified word or words in the title under "Find in title only." In the search box, you may use Boolean operators such as AND and OR.

A title search may be a good way to start a search; it will give you documents and bundles more likely to be about your topic of interest. From those targeted documents, you can gather additional key words to use in a more complete search of the entire document, fields and title.

Limit Search Results to Recent Years.

If you only want to find information related to a new technology or process, search for documents or bundles that were added to the Best Practice Database in the last 1, 2 or 3 years by using the date filter in Advanced Search.

Another way to estimate how new a document or bundle is relative to others is to look at the document number. As a general rule, higher numbers are more recently published documents, and lower numbers were published earlier.

To learn the date of a document or bundle, see the Research Info box in the actual document or bundle.

Generally, documents published prior to 2002 were in shorter formats -- the equivalent of a few pages representing one best practice. Due to customer requests to add more context, research published beyond 2002 is generally longer -- like 20-30 pages or slides or more.

Find Documents by Research ID Number.

If you have the four-digit document or bundle ID number, you can type in one number in any of the search boxes and you will be taken directly to that document or bundle (if auto-redirect is enabled). If you have more than one ID number, use "Research ID" box at the bottom of the Advanced Search page. Separate your numbers with commas or the word "or."

Add Company Names and/or Industries.

Searches apply to a document's abstract as well as the actual research. To restrict your searches to research where a particular company was part of the benchmark class or "companies profiled", simply write the name into the search bar. If you want research where at least one of the companies was in that industry, type in the industry as well.

Filter by Industry.

Although the best practices of organizations can often transfer readily between industries, there are times when you may only want to see research from organizations within one industry. There are two ways to do this.

First, as described above, you can simply type in an industry name (or industry names) as the key word in a search box. In the Basic Search, documents that refer to that industry within the text, title or other fields will be included. Use this option if you want to find research that spans more than one industry of interest.

Second, once you get your desired search results using key words, at the top of the Search Results page under New Filter, you can select one industry in the drop-down menu and then click the "Apply" button. This industry will appear as the default industry in your next search results, but you must click the "Apply" button for the filter to operate. This will give you all research which highlights at least one company in that industry.

Find Research by Partner Company.

To find all research that includes a particular organization (or organizations) as a benchmark partner or profiled company, simply type in the name of the company in a search box. This will find all documents or bundles in which that company was a profiled company or benchmark partner or was referred to in the text. However, to protect the confidentiality of benchmark partners, many documents have aggregated or blinded data in which you cannot associate a company's data with its practices or metrics.

Restrict Research by Subject Category.

If you want to restrict your key word search results to one category (see section IV), such as Sales and Marketing and/or Business Operations, select your desired category under Advanced Search. To select more than one category, press and hold the Ctrl key while selecting. If you have a single subject license and do not want to see documents (with corresponding prices) from other categories in your results, you may want to filter by subject category.

IV. How to Browse by Category

You can also browse by category subject areas by selecting a category under Browse Database on the left navigation bar. As you drill down through multiple subcategories, you will see the main category followed by each "branch level" or subcategory after it. For example:

Human Resources > Performance Management > Feedback

This "breadcrumb navigation" provides you the path you have taken to get to the last subcategory. It allows you to jump back to higher branch levels by clicking on those links. This path is also visible after each document or bundle's abstract.

If you want to see all documents under one subcategory but in several lower subcategories, click “View all research under these categories.”

For a complete list of all the categories and subcategories, open and print the Categories List pdf.

At each subcategory level, you will find on the far right. This research consists of both new and otherwise noteworthy research. The contents in Featured Research rotate randomly.

Get More Help

If you are a Database member or member of Best Practices, LLC's Research and Advisory Services, contact your Account Manager for more assistance. Account managers are familiar with the content in the database and how to find information quickly. Visitors should consider a membership, which includes a regular newsletter update of new research and a dedicated Account Manager. See Membership Options.

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