NIH - National Institutes of Health

04/03/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/03/2024 12:54

Why Do I Sometimes Get Different RePORTER Results when Using Advanced Search vs. Quick Search

Posted April 3, 2024April 3, 2024

Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) is an electronic tool that allows users to search a repository of both intramural and extramural NIH-funded research projects and publications and patents resulting from NIH funding. Users can query the system in two distinct ways, either via "Advanced Search" or "Quick Search." But its worth noting there can be a difference in the query results depending on which approach is used.

As we first explained on this NIH Open Mike blog post, Quick Search is helpful for performing simple queries. Advanced Search allows you to use precisely defined data fields when searching for NIH funded research. Thus, there may be differences in the results that are obtained when using both distinct search options.

An illustrative example would be searching for "gene," which could be someone's name or something biological. When inputting that into Quick Search as of a couple weeks ago, there are 1,006,815 projects. However, inputting that into the text search box on Advanced Search and selecting all fiscal years will return 1,004,888 projects. If you moved it to the principal Investigator field, 6,881 results are returned. These results may also change each week when the RePORTER data are refreshed.

Quick Search is simply that, a quick list of results for quick searches. Quick Search also automatically looks across a limited number of common data fields, like principal investigator, recipient organization, and the text in a project abstract. For instance, if you input something that looks like a name or a location, this search feature will match the query with information in the principal investigator or city/state/country fields, respectively.

Advanced Search allows users to filter resulting projects more precisely, specifically choosing exactly which fields to search across. If you enter "Cleveland" into the text search part of Advanced Search, the tool will only search against title, abstract, and/or NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) terms depending on which checkboxes were selected). Quick Search, on the other hand, would try to match the term against title, abstract, institution name, and institution city. Please also keep in mind though that there is no connection between the two search options. It is not possible to start with a Quick Search and then further refine the results with the Advanced Search filters.

Also note that Quick Search looks across all fiscal years, while Advanced Search defaults to Active projects only, potentially providing different results. This default in the Advanced Search can be easily adjusted though in the "Fiscal Year" field.

Quick Search also does not allow search logic like "and" or "or" when conducting queries. On the other hand, certain fields within the Advanced Search can incorporate this kind of advanced search logic.

One additional tip when searching, consider filtering your results by specific spending categories available in Advanced Search. This is helpful for users interested in limiting results based on specific RCDC topics. Users should recognize though that when refining with specific spending categories, the resulting projects represent grants data for prior fiscal years (and not the current fiscal year). This is because categorical spending data for each fiscal year is made available the following fiscal year after the President's Budget is released.

Regardless of how the search is performed, it's always important to use your judgment to determine if the resulting projects from your search are appropriate for your interest.