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Best practice prior art searching is based on using controlled language. Controlled language schemes mandate the use of predefined, authorised terms that have been preselected by the designers of the schemes; in contrast to natural language vocabularies. Controlled languages have features that provide a very distinct context. Context can be understood as the ability of a controlled language to provide distinct associations between integers.

Where possible, employ controlled languages as a first option in preparing a search strategy. Certain technologies have controlled language, for example:

  • Chemistry based technologies have compound and structure nomenclature that is well established.
  • Biotechnology has a regularised language around sequences.

In addition, certain technology areas have terms that are used universally. Whilst universally used terms have a place in prior art searching they tend not to include features to provide context and are not a controlled language.

Examples of recognised controlled language schemes for searching are the CPC, Medline MESH terms, Chemical Abstracts Controlled Terms, Chemical structure and Gene/Protein sequence searching.

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