Thursday, February 2, 2006

Thematic Search Tool (TST)


Is there a reason why access to the thematic search tool is now restricted? It's an extemely valuable resource for finding older files.

Answers and Responses

1. I asked this question a while ago and the division advised that the tool is not being kept up-to-date and that users should be using the IMDB (Longitudinal Immigration Database).

2. When the IMDB becomes as useful as the TST, we will certainly use it. But the TST is the ONLY resource at StatCan that will allow users to look at surveys in that level of detail. While it is not being kept up to date, it is still extremely useful. A caveat as to its coverage should be enough cya for even STC. Rendering a useful resource useless just doesn't make sense.

3. The difference between the thematic search tool and the IMDB is like the difference between searching the library's catalogue, versus searching a database of journal articles. Sure you can find out that Stats Can has a survey called SLID in year XXXX, but only the Thematic Search Tool will tell you that that survey has a question with eg the word "daycare" (I'm pulling stuff out of memory here, but I think that's about right).

Unless the IMDB can provide searchable question text in all surveys, it is no replacement for the TST.

4. A final point is that the IMDB is NOT retrospective, while the TST is. Thus much of the material in the Thematic Search Tool is not going to be found in the IMDB. We can use the IMDB for current stuff, but the TST is invaluable for the historic files.

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