Search Results

How are results found?

ZPORTAL uses Z39.50 to send your search to information providers. Z39.50 is an ISO and ANSI/NISO standard that specifies a client/server protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote databases. Information providers that do not support the Z39.50 protocol will be searched via Z2Web, using whatever search protocol is most appropriate.

In what order are results returned?

Results are returned in from each search target in groups of 10 or 20 rtecords.  Results from the fastest target will be displayed first, followed by results from other targets.

How can I sort search results?

Search results can be sorted in two ways:

How can I narrow my search results?

Search results can be narrowed in two ways:  

Which results are most relevant?

Depending on how your system is set up, each record in the search results may have its relevancy ranked by a score of 1-5 (5 is most relevant). You can also choose to sort by most relevant by clicking on Sort Options. Relevancy is determined by a number of factors e.g. if all the search terms are matched by a record then it is ranked more relevant than if only a few of your search terms are matched. You can also have some input into how relevancy works by editing your Search Profile.


Search results that were published in peer reviewed journals may be marked with a special icon. Peer reviewed articles may not always be the most relevant for your topic, but they are from high quality sources.

Media icons

Normally the following icons depict the physical format of records in the search results hit list:

journal article

large print book

book (includes patent, thesis, report etc)


all other types of general book/manuscript


sheet music



audio cassette (musical & non musical)

CD (musical & non musical)

LP (musical & non musical)

DVD movie

VHS video

video other

computer file, website etc

mixed media/ kit / 3D object



What do the other icons mean?    

Depending on the way your library has set ZPORTAL up for you, links to electronic content (full-text, abstracts, etc.) may be included on the Search Results page. These links are usually marked with special icons. (Your library can customize the icons, or you may see or )  


If electronic content is available from several sources, you will see more than one icon. The Request (Get It!) button may also provide links to electronic content, and/or to request the item via interlibrary loan.


You can add an item to your Saved List by clicking the Save icon.  You can view saved items by clicking Saved List in the menu bar.  Items are kept in the Saved List as long as your ZPORTAL session is active.  When you sign out, your saved list items will be lost.  For more information, see Saved List


When you are signed in, you can saved a search by clicking the Save Search icon.  Saved searches will be available anytime you use ZPORTAL, by clicking Saved Searches in the menu bar.   See also Saved Searches

What does the Collection link do?

If enabled on your system a Collection link is shown for each record in the search results. This opens a new window that gives you the native search interface for that collection. You can then carry out a search in that interface while still maintaining your ZPORTAL session.

It says I got 300 hits, but only 20 display. Why?

ZPORTAL automatically displays an initial set of hits. After that, you need to tell ZPORTAL you want to see more. Simply click on Get More Hits or Next at the top of your result list to have more results displayed. Displaying results as you ask to see them is a more efficient use of network resources than automatically displaying all hits.

Why didn’t I get any search results?

There are several reasons why you may occasionally get zero search results:

For suggestions about how to broaden your search, see Advanced Search