Help

Wherever you see the i icon on the search pages you can click on it to display context specific help but please choose from the two options below to see below our most frequently asked questions:

Using PIO FAQs

Accessibility FAQs

Using PIO

Q:   How can I get access to PIO?
Q:   Where can I get help using PIO?
Q:   How do I find records in PIO?
Q:   What are UK Parliament Index Terms?
Q:   What are COPAC Terms?
Q:   How do I browse PIO
Q:   How do I search PIO? 
Q:   What information is displayed in the search results?
Q:   What order are the search results sorted in?
Q:   How can I see more pages of search results?
Q:   Where Can I Obtain Hard Copies of Publications on PIO?


Accessibility

Q:   Can I change the background or foreground colours or contrasts on PIO?
Q:   What is the maximum font size and does text re-flow?
Q:   Are there keyboard-only equivalents for all mouse actions?
Q:   Are there short cut keys to reduce tabbing?
Q:   Is text marked up to allow meaningful navigaion?
Q:   Can text be selected and read by text-to-speech tools?
Q:   Are there alternative text descriptions available for all relevant images?


A:   How can I get access to PIO?

PIO is a paid-subscription website, so to access the content you will need to subscribe.  When you subscribe, you or your organisation will be issued with a username and password, enabling you to access the content on the site.  We can also provide access using Athens authentication or by IP range.

Subscription is by Parliamentary session.  Once paid for you can access all publications on PIO which are issued in that Parliamentary session.  You will have access to these documents for ever.


A:   Where Can I Get Help Using PIO?

The search pages come with context sensitive help, but please see below for advice on searching.

For help with anything that is not covered below please email the PIO webmaster for help with queries on any aspect of the service.  Email us on support@publicinformationonline.com


A:   How do I find records in PIO?

There are two different ways of finding records in PIO:

  • Browsing – You can browse the different records in each Parliament by Category, Corporate Author name (UK Parliament only), Committee name (Scottish Parliament only) or by paper number.
  • Searching – You can perform advanced searches enabling you to specify in detail the records you are looking for.


A:   What are UK Parliament Index Terms?

PIO uses the House of Commons Library subject index terms. The House of Commons Library thesaurus contains over 5000 terms and is constantly updated to include new and more relevant references. Although the records held on PIO are updated each day, there will sometimes be small delays in the currency of the House of Commons information, particularly at times when a large number of documents are published. Those searching under subject index terms should therefore be aware that the most recent papers may not be included in the search results.



A:  What are COPAC Terms?

We take our non Parliamentary index terms from COPAC which include the following:

  • TI - Title
  • AU - Author, Editor, Translator, etc.
  • MV - Volume and title details of a volume in a multi-volume work
  • SE - Series Title
  • ED - Edition
  • SC - Scale information for maps
  • PU - Pulisher details
  • PY - Publication year
  • PD - Physical description
  • DT - Document type
  • LA - Language
  • IS - ISBN or ISSN
  • NT - Notes
  • KW - Subject details (Keywords)

Disclaimer
The Copac service has taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in this website is accurate on the stated date of publication or last modification.

It is possible that the information may be out of date, incomplete or the opinion of the author. It is advisable that you verify any information from this website before relying on it.

The Copac service and Public Information Online accepts no responsibility for the consequences of error or for any loss or damage suffered by users of any of the information and material contained on this website or any site you may access through this site.

All catalogues contain occasional errors. If you see an error in a record on Copac we do appreciate it if you tell us about this.


A:   How do I Browse PIO?

Parliamentary Material

In order to browse the Parliamentary records in Public Information Online, you must first select the Parliament that you wish to look in. Then simply select the category of paper you would like to browse from the navigation menu.

You can now browse the displayed results by using the drop down boxes at the top of the screen to narrow the selection either by a particular Parliamentary session, or to sort the results either numerically or alphabetically by title.

Non-Parliamentary Material

Non-Parliamentary material is categorised by Corporate Author. To view the papers, simply choose which corporate author you wish to look at. Within each corporate author, the papers are grouped by year. Once you have chosen your year via the dropdown box, you can then view the papers either by month within that year or alphabetically by title.

For ease of browsing, some corporate authors such as the Office for National Statistics have an additional level of categorisation. Titles that are published periodically are grouped together e.g. Population Trends would be a choice within Office of National Statistics.


A:   How do I search PIO?

The search facility within PIO allows you to refine your results using several criteria. Listed below are the various ways that results can be narrowed.

Parliament

By default, you will search across all of the Parliaments that you are subscribed to. By clicking on the "All" you will able to refine your search to only show results from a particular parliament.

You can choose to search Non-Parliamentary material only by choosing Non-Parliamentary in the Parliaments list.

Session:

By default you will search across all sessions you are subscribed to but by clicking on "All" you can refine the search by clicking the tick boxes to only search for publications from a particular parliamentary session.

Non-Parliamentary material is grouped by year. Results for the Non-Parliamentary material will automatically be included in the default "All" search unless changed.

Categories:

As with 'Session' above the default search will be carried out across all categories but by clicking on 'All' you can narrow the search by clicking the tick boxes for the different publication categories.

Number:

Searching by Paper number is enabled numerically. e.g. to search for 'House of Lords Paper 144' you should enter '144' not HL 144 or HLP 144.

Published under ISBN:

You can search by ISBN If you know the ISBN of the document you are looking for.

Date From and Date To:

You can search within a specific date range by using the calendar icons next to 'Date From' and 'Date To'.  Simply click on the calendar icon and a box appears showing the current month.  You can either choose a date from this month by clicking on it, or you can use the left/right triangles in the top corners of this box to navigate forwards or backwards a month at a time.

By clicking on the displayed month eg ‘November 2007’, all 12 months of the year will be displayed.

You can either select a month by clicking on it or click the displayed year e.g. '2007' to display a choice of 12 years.  These can be navigated in the same way as the days/months.

Title Search and Keyword Search:
Public Information Online uses the open-source Lucene search engine. The following is adapted from the Lucene Query Parser Syntax.

Terms
A query is broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms: Single Terms and Phrases.

A Single Term is a single word such as "origin" or "selection".

A Phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as "natural selection".

Multiple terms can be combined together with Boolean operators to form a more complex query (see below).

Note: The analyzer used to create the index will be used on the terms and phrases in the query string. So it is important to choose an analyzer that will not interfere with the terms used in the query string.

Term Modifiers
Lucene supports modifying query terms to provide a wide range of searching options.

Wildcard Searches
Lucene supports single and multiple character wildcard searches within single terms (not within phrase queries).

To perform a single character wildcard search use the "?" symbol.
To perform a multiple character wildcard search use the "*" symbol.
The single character wildcard search looks for terms that match that with the single character replaced. For example, to search for "text" or "test" you can use the search:

te?t


Multiple character wildcard searches looks for 0 or more characters. For example, to search for test, tests or tester, you can use the search:

test*


You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term.

te*t


Note: You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.

Fuzzy Searches
Lucene supports fuzzy searches based on the Levenshtein Distance, or Edit Distance algorithm. To do a fuzzy search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Single word Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "roam" use the fuzzy search:

roam~
This search will find terms like foam and roams.

An additional (optional) parameter can specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 8 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example:

roam~0.8
The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.

Proximity Searches
Lucene supports finding words are a within a specific distance away. To do a proximity search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Phrase. For example to search for a "Galapagos" and "species" within 10 words of each other in a document use the search:

"Galapagos species"~10
Boosting a Term
Lucene provides the relevance level of matching documents based on the terms found. To boost a term use the caret, "^", symbol with a boost factor (a number) at the end of the term you are searching. The higher the boost factor, the more relevant the term will be.

Boosting allows you to control the relevance of a document by boosting its term. For example, if you are searching for

Galapagos species

and you want the term "Galapagos" to be more relevant boost it using the ^ symbol along with the boost factor next to the term. You would type:

Galapagos^4 species

This will make documents with the term Galapagos appear more relevant. You can also boost Phrase Terms as in the example:

"Galapagos species"^4 "Charles Darwin"

By default, the boost factor is 1. Although the boost factor must be positive, it can be less than 1 (e.g. 0.2)

Boolean Operators
Boolean operators allow terms to be combined through logic operators. Lucene supports AND, "+", OR, NOT and "-" as Boolean operators (Note: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS).

The OR operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the OR operator is used. The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching document if either of the terms exist in a document. This is equivalent to a union using sets. The symbol || can be used in place of the word OR.

To search for documents that contain either "natural selection " or just "selection" use the query:

"natural selection" selection

or

"natural selection" OR selection


AND
The AND operator matches documents where both terms exist anywhere in the text of a single document. This is equivalent to an intersection using sets. The symbol && can be used in place of the word AND.

To search for documents that contain "natural selection " and "Charles Darwin " use the query:

"natural selection" AND "Charles Darwin"


+


To search for documents that must contain "Galapagos" and may contain "selection" use the query:

+Galapagos selection


NOT
The NOT operator excludes documents that contain the term after NOT. This is equivalent to a difference using sets. The symbol ! can be used in place of the word NOT.

To search for documents that contain "natural selection " but not "Charles Darwin " use the query:

"natural selection" NOT "Charles Darwin"


Note: The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term. For example, the following search will return no results:

NOT "natural selection"


-
The "-" or prohibit operator excludes documents that contain the term after the "-" symbol.

To search for documents that contain "natural selection " but not "Charles Darwin " use the query:

"natural selection" -"Charles Darwin"


Grouping
Lucene supports using parentheses to group clauses to form sub queries. This can be very useful if you want to control the boolean logic for a query.

To search for either "natural" or "selection" and "Darwin" use the query:

(natural OR selection) AND Darwin


This eliminates any confusion and makes sure you that Darwin must exist and either term natural or selection may exist.


Field Grouping
Lucene supports using parentheses to group multiple clauses to a single field.

To search for a title that contains both the word "origin" and the phrase "natural selection " use the query:

title:(+origin +"natural selection")


Escaping Special Characters
Lucene supports escaping special characters that are part of the query syntax. The current list special characters are

+ - && || ! ( ) { } [ ] ^ " ~ * ? : \


To escape these character use the \ before the character. For example to search for (1+1):2 use the query:

\(1\+1\)\:2
Corporate Author

Additional dropdown menus are available on the search page to allow you to search by:

  • UK Parliament Corporate Author
  • Scottish Parliament Committee
  • Northern Ireland Assembly Committee
  • Scottish Government Corporate Author
  • Non-Parliamentary Corporate Author


A:   What information is displayed in the search results?

The Search Results page displays a list of all the records that matched your search query.  From here, you can see brief details of the document and link through to the record for each document.

Each entry consists of:

  • Paper Number.
  • Parliament the paper is from
  • Parliamentary session.
  • The category the paper falls into
  • The date of publication
  • The publication title, which is also a link to the record for the document.
  • The Corporate Author for UK Parliamentary documents (Except for House of Lords/Commons Bills where no Corporate Author is displayed) OR The Committee for Scottish Parliamentary documents 
  • The ISBN and price of the original printed hard copy.

Non-Parliamentary material also contain information about:

  • Class
  • Description/Extent of publication
  • Notes
  • Brief Abstract


A:   What order are the search results sorted in?

Search results are sorted in order of relevance, i.e. the records most appropriate to your search are at the top of the list.

You can choose to have search results displayed either:

  • Alphabetically – All results are sorted alphabetically by TITLE.
  • Categorically - All papers of the same type (eg Bills) are grouped together.
  • Chronologically – Earliest documents are displayed first.


A:   How can I see more pages of search results?

The Search Results page displays ten results per page.

  • If there are more than 10 pages of results click 'Next>' to see the next ten pages of results.  To go to the previous ten pages of results, click '<Previous'.
  • To go to the last page of results, click 'Last>>'.
  • To go to the first page of results click '<<First'.


A:   Where Can I Obtain Hard Copies of Publications on PIO?

All publications listed on PIO are available to download free of charge for subscribers but hard copies of each publication can be purchased separately from Dandy Booksellers Ltd www.dandybooksellers.com +44(0)207 624 2993 orders@dandybooksellers.com

 


A: Can I change the background or foreground colours or contrasts?

PIO utilises black text on white background to ensure best accessibility. Users can not currently change colours or contrasts.


A:   What is the maximum font size and does text re-flow?

The maximum font size on Public Information Online is 24. When the font is enlarged, text will re-flow automatically so you won't miss any important information.


A: Are there keyboard-only equivalents for all mouse actions?

There are not currently keyboard-only equivalents for all mouse actions. However, this functionality is something that we hope to add in future development.


A: Are there any short cut keys to reduce tabbing?

There are not currently any short cut keys to reduce tabbing around links. However, this functionality is something that we hope to add in future development.


A:   Is text marked up to allow meaningful navigation?

Yes!. Text such as headings have been marked up to aid meaningful navigation. 


A: Can text be selected and read by text-to-speech tools?

Yes! PIO does support the use of text-to-speech tools when text is selected.


A: Are there alternative text descriptions available for all relevant images?

There are not currently alternative text descriptions for all graphics and images on PIO. However, this functionality is something that we hope to add in future development.