New Scientist Archive and the “placebo effect”

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First of all, the search on New Scientist looks pretty basic: a search box topping and tailing the homepage and in between loads of interesting looking articles to tempt us away from our task!

Scratch the surface though and there is an advanced search available, alongside relevance and date to re-order results.

Our search in the New Scientist Archive was on the placebo effect with no modifiers such as speech marks to restrict the search engine to retrieve results on the exact phrase only. The resulting 4,995 results were displayed as hyperlinks with author(s) name(s), publication date, issue number and the category in which the articles appeared (i.e.: editorial, letters, news, features etc). All quite useful.

The advanced search options offered little more than refining our search based on information we might already have though (e.g.: author name) so we were a little disappointed in this and it prompted us to modify our original search using speech marks.

So, our search became: “placebo effect” and our results were significantly reduced, down to just 146 from nearly 5,000. This is a more manageable set of results to deal with and we can be fairly confident that, having chosen a science-based resource to make this particular search, we will be reading relevant material.

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