Research Skills Blog

The Value of Indexing for Accelerating Research

Republished from EBSCOpost with permission

Whether you’re a librarian, scientist, student or general consumer, when seeking research for your work, relevant information and sources seem plentiful, especially since the internet has made it easier than ever to discover and share content. However, the more there is, the harder it becomes to find what you need. Researchers can relate to that feeling of frustration, trawling through pages of search results looking for an answer, a quote — something that you know is there and you just can’t find it.

Discovering a tool which helps you find the best results quickly is a game-changer. For example, as a lover of good food, I always research restaurants before travelling. Pinpointing great dining establishments was made so much easier when I discovered the book, Where Chefs Eat. With reputable sources, concise descriptive records, and an index I can search by name or location, it helps me research and narrow down my choices easily.

Now, I’m sharing my favorite restaurant guide with you for a reason. In an age of information overload, we need quality more than quantity from a list of search results, and indexing is designed to do just that.

In an age of information overload, we need quality more than quantity from a list of search results, and indexing is designed to do just that. 

For scientific content, abstract and index (A&I) databases, such as our own FSTA – Food Science and Technology Abstracts, have been specifically developed to help researchers find high quality information.

Indexing enables you to find concepts and synonyms indicated by the keywords you search, helping you to discover content and making it more likely that the whole record will be relevant. For example, I searched for ”sensory properties” in FSTA on EBSCOhost®,  due to the indexing I discovered results on smell, taste, appearance and more, all within the topic of sensory properties.

In a subject-oriented database, the terminology for indexing is typically specific to the field, helping researchers filter irrelevant results and enabling targeted search. For example, I searched for ”spirits”’ and ”safety” on FSTA, and every result on the first page of my search results were on food safety and alcoholic spirits, with no need to filter out rogue articles on subjects such as ‘poltergeists.’

These are just a couple of examples demonstrating how A&I databases help scientists and students to efficiently find high-quality, targeted information.

Pause before starting your search with the tool closest to hand. The best search tool for one task might not be the best tool for another. Choosing your search tool based on your information needs can help you research efficiently and effectively.

EBSCO offers FSTA – Food Science and Technology Abstracts on EBSCOhost and EBSCO Discovery Service™. They, along with Research Information, recently sponsored the webinar, “Seven Key Questions to Evaluate Your Food Science and Nutrition Information.” Watch free on demand.


If you enjoy our blog posts, you may well benefit from using FSTA. Over 50 years, FSTA has become a powerful resource for academic and professional food experts.

It provides over 1.4 million expertly sourced articles, all related to the sciences of food and drink. Get in touch for a free demonstration or trial, we'd love to hear from you.

Learn more about FSTA

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