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swingliner's avatar

Excel Masters: Results from search engine magically transported to excel? Is this possible?

Asked by swingliner (245points) February 15th, 2009

I need to make a spreadsheet of the number of results that comes with entering particular search queries for a certain date from the 60’s up to present day. The results are coming from a database of journal articles.

Excel experts: Any way to lessen the tediousness of this project? I’ll probably have to end up just doing one at a time, but wanted to tap the fluther collective just to see if there were any short cuts. Thanks.

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9 Answers

fireside's avatar

I’m not claiming to be an Excel expert, but it is not clear to me what your source data is in this case. Is the data on a website in HTML, or are you entering queries in Google and need to copy out those results?

swingliner's avatar

Sorry, this doesn’t look clear at all. Let me try to explain further:

I need to count the results that come up for a search string in a particular database of journals (not google). So say I need to see how many journals contain the words “jalapeno peppers + restaurants” in the month of May in 1965. So I see that 16 journals come up as the results. So I enter 16 on my spreadsheet under May, 1965. Then I need to do it for all of the other months. Then for every year. Until now.

I plan on just entering everything manually, but I know there are a lot of computer geniuses here. Some sort of magic program that can do all of this for me may be a bit far-fetched, but is there any shortcuts to assist me with this?

critter1982's avatar

I think this is what you are looking for??
Take the data you have from your database and copy and paste it into a word document. In the word document between each query make sure there is a <tab> between each you want to separate by columns and <enter> between each you want to separate by rows. Simply copy and paste into excel.

***Um based on your response above, I think not, I’m still a bit confused on exactly what you want done. Do you want excel to read information directly from another program?

funkdaddy's avatar

The most efficient way would be to set up a query for the database if you have access to it, it’s going to be a lot quicker than doing each entry manually in both places…

Is the database online? If not, how do you access it? For example do you open up Microsoft Access or some other program to get your data?

You may want to look into SQL, which is a fairly simple language used to pull data like this from databases. A single query would get you all the numbers for a given set of terms. If the database is something I can access, I’d be happy to try to help you write something up, and then you can modify it for your specific needs.

Otherwise, here’s some quick references for SQL…

concentrate on the SELECT statement, which is what you’d be using…

Of course if you don’t have access to the database, this may not help, but there’s definitely some way you can script this to make it easier on yourself…

I hope it helps.

swingliner's avatar

Thanks funkdaddy! I have access to the database. It is lexisnexis and I am able to access it on the internet through my college’s library research port with my student ID # etc.

A single query getting me all of the number I need sounds PERFECT but I may have to learn this SQL business some other time…I know nothing of computers hence my question about a program as simple as excel…

fireside's avatar

I don’t think the college will let you access the database directly.
What you are accessing with your student id is the user interface.

Honestly, just become a robot for an hour or so and it will be done.

swingliner's avatar

@fireside – I figured…ah well. It was worth a shot.

funkdaddy's avatar

fireside is absolutely right, they’re not going to let you access the database directly for better or worse…

My thinking was that if you’re doing this, so are others in your class, and you may have 50 terms you’re searching for over every month for 50 years. Suddenly you have 30,000 searches and it could take a while.

If that’s the case, lexisnexis does have an API you can use which just handles your search terms through the url you enter, so there are ways around entering each one. They probably would take a couple hours to get set up, even if you knew a programming language, so unless this is going to be an ongoing thing you’re repeating, probably just quicker to hammer through it one at a time.


API link if it happens to help…

swingliner's avatar

Cool. I appreciate everyone’s help x 100000. Thanks guys.

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