How to search in Mergeflow


Mergeflow does not use brackets, and searches are not case sensitive (iot = IoT = IOT = iOT).
This article covers the "mechanics" of how to search in Mergeflow. If you are interested in effective search strategies for tech discovery, we recommend our blog article,  'How to get better search results for tech discovery'.

How to see Team topics

If you are part of a team in Mergeflow, each team member can see the topics that the other team members are following. These topics are suggested when your query matches any part of any team member's topic. Or you can access the list of team topics directly, by typing "team topics" into the search bar:

How to see Emerging Tech topics

Mergeflow has a set of pre-configured searches for "emerging tech" topics built in. You can browse through them by clicking on "Explore emerging tech..." above the search bar:
Alternatively, you can enter "emerging tech" into the search bar. You can also narrow this down to a particular category. For example, if you want to see emerging tech topics from "Materials Science", you can type "emerging tech (mat":
This works in a similar way for all the other topic categories.

Exact matches

Using quotation marks will search for an exact match.  For instance, “sensor network” only matches documents containing “sensor network” but not for instance documents containing “sensor networks”, “sensor”, or “network”.
You should also use quotation marks if you want to search for terms that contain brackets. This could be names of materials, such as benzo(k)fluoranthene, for example:


Mergeflow supports wildcards (“*”).  Searching for sensor* matches documents containing “sensor”, “sensors”, “sensing”, etc.

Boolean searches (using logical OR, AND, NOT)

In order to search for “energy harvesting” or “power harvesting”, for example, you can either use “OR”….

...or the pipe operator (“|”):

Now, in order to add other search terms by logical OR (e.g. “energy scavenging”) after you did your initial search on the start page, you can click on the green filter (cf. the red arrow in the screenshot below):

If now you would like to add “sensor networks” by logical AND, i.e. search for (“energy harvesting” OR “power harvesting” OR “energy scavenging”) AND “sensor networks”, you must enter “sensor networks” in the empty search box, like shown in the screenshot below (do not forget to hit “return” after entering your query):

Now you can see the result - terms within a green box are combined by logical OR, and terms in different green boxes are combined by logical AND:

You could now de-select individual green boxes by clicking on their “x” symbol.  For instance, in the example above, if now you would like to search only for “sensor networks”, just click on the “x” of the first green box that contains “energy harvesting” etc..

You can also exclude search terms, i.e. use logical NOT.  For instance, if you would like to exclude all documents containing “battery”, enter “-battery” into the next search box:

After hitting “return”, the NOT query, “-battery”, is displayed as a red filter box:

Translated to more traditional bracketed syntax, the query above would be…

(“energy harvesting” OR “power harvesting” OR “energy scavenging”) AND “sensor networks” AND_NOT “battery”

By the way, filter boxes are limited in width (imagine how long a filter box would be for a search query consisting of 20 terms combined by logical OR…).  So if your query terms do not fit comfortably within the width limits of the filter box, clicking on the filter box opens a popup:

In the popup, you can add further search terms, or delete existing ones.  In the example above, we added “power scavenging” (cf. red arrow) as a further search term.  After clicking “Close”, all four search terms in the box will be combined by logical OR.

NEAR searches

Besides AND, OR, and NOT searches, mergeflow also features a NEAR search.  For example, a search for…

…only finds documents that contain “internet of things” and “analytics” with a maximum of five intervening words (NEAR2 would allow max. two intervening words, NEAR10 ten words, etc.).  Sequence of the search terms plays no role here.

You can also combine NEAR searches by logical “OR”, for instance…

...finds documents that (1) contain “IoT” max. five words apart from “analytics”, or (2) “smart grid” max. three words apart from “analytics”.

What's next?

How about doing a 360° search with Mergeflow? Just so that you can plan your timing, in our experience, a 360° search should take you no longer than 20 minutes.

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