Selecting All Results on a Page of Search Results

I’ve been wondering about the pros and cons of having a search results page that lets the user select all the items on the page (so they can be saved, exported, etc.) A quick survey of some major database platforms, discovery services, and our catalog shows that this feature is not available in every interface:

Interfaces that have it:

  • EBSCOhost
  • Factiva
  • LexisNexis Academic
  • Primo (current UI)
  • ProQuest
  • Web of Science

Interfaces that don’t have it:

  • Ex Libris Aleph
  • EBSCOhost
  • JSTOR
  • Gale
  • Primo (including new UI)
  • ScienceDirect
  • Summon

I’m not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing for an interface to be missing the “select all items” function. I suspect that usage of this feature might vary by tool (article databases vs. discovery layers vs. traditional catalog interfaces). Should we be clamoring for this function across all tools? Some of them? None of them? Is it too much of an expert searcher tool to bother with (or to bother with in some tools?)

I realize that to answer these questions conclusively would require access to usage data we don’t necessarily have (how many users clicked on the feature in the interfaces where it’s an option) and observational data (from interviews, usability testing, etc.). I’m curious about what others think about this feature.

UPDATE 12 October 2016: Thanks to folks on the Primo mailing list, I realized I was wrong about Primo not offering the feature. The current UI does but the new one doesn’t. A librarian on the ERIL list pointed out that EBSCOhost lets you add all items on the page if you first go to the “Share” button. I’ve updated the post to reflect these corrections.

3 thoughts on “Selecting All Results on a Page of Search Results

  1. As a user (PhD student), I’m super annoyed when it isn’t there. Why make me click so many times when the system could save my labor. This sounds minor until you think about 1click per item – if I can click at a rate of 1 item per second – for a 300 item result set is 5 straight minutes of clicking…. if the results all display on one page – if not, add time. And, I’m quite likely to accidentally not click exactly where I intended and miss some (possibly not realizing, possibly realizing but increasing the time commitment). I regularly curse at EBSCOhost for this.

  2. Good question. Here are a couple more data points: Koha lets you do it; Evergreen does not.

    To suggest another use case: if the public search interface is also embedded in the staff interface (e.g. as is the case in Evergreen), the ability to select all search results on the page could be useful in staff workflows (“let me stash them in a list for batch processing later”).

  3. Lisa: That’s a good point about people who need to do comprehensive searches are likely to be most in need of a function like this. Galen: I hadn’t thought about that but think your point about saving staff time makes total sense too.

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