How to find information in the The Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive


How to read the documents

The title or first words of each document have been used to provide title information. Underneath this is a link to the source document in either PDF or JPEG format.

The other elements of the document's description are sometimes hard to understand. Links have been provided to a comprehensive glossary of key agencies, classification codes, distribution codes and surveillance programs. It can be found here.

How to search for particular words

From the search page, you make a query in these simple steps:

  1. Specify what items you want to search
  2. Say whether you want to search for all or just some of the words
  3. Type in the words you want to search for
  4. Click the Begin Search button

When you make a query, the titles of fifty matching documents will be shown. This is the maximum number of search results that can be retrieved. If you would like to lower the amount of documents that can be retrirved, you can do this by clicking on the preferences button at the bottom of the page.


Search terms

Whatever you type into the query box is interpreted as a list of words or phrases called "search terms." A term is a single word containing only letters and digits, or a phrase consisting of a sequence of words enclosed in double quotes ("..."). Terms are separated by white spaces. If any other characters such as punctuation appear, they serve to separate terms just as though they were spaces. And then they are ignored. You can't search for words that include punctuation.

For example, the query

will be treated the same as

For collections built with Lucene a few other options are available.

Both of these wildcards can be used in the middle of a term, or at the end. They cannot be used at the start of a search term.

Query type

There are two different kinds of query.

Use as many search terms as you like--a whole sentence, or even a whole paragraph. If you specify only one term, documents will be ordered by its frequency of occurrence.


Scope of queries

In most collections you are given a choice of different indexes to search. For example, there might be author or title indexes. Or there might be chapter or paragraph indexes. Generally, the full matching document is returned regardless of which index you search.

If documents are books, they will be opened at the appropriate place.


Advanced searching using the Lucene search engine

If you have selected simple query mode (in preferences) you have slightly different search options.

NOTE: These operators are all ignored if you are searching in simple query mode.


Fielded searching

Fielded searching provides the opportunity to combine searches across fields. For example, one can search for "NSA" in Title AND "metadata" in Subject. In simple query mode, each line of the form behaves like a normal single line search. The individual lines of the form are combined using AND (for an "all" search) or OR (for a "some" search). Terms inside the field are also combined the same way. In advanced mode, you can specify different combinations of AND/OR/NOT between the fields using the drop-down lists, and inside a field you can use boolean operators.


Changing your preferences

When you click the button at the top of the page you will be able to change some features of the interface to suit your own requirements.


Language preferences

Each collection has a default presentation language, but you can switch to a different language if you like. You can also alter the encoding scheme used by Greenstone for output to the browser -- the software chooses sensible defaults, but with some browsers it may be necessary to switch to a different encoding scheme to ensure correct character display. All collections allow you to switch from the standard graphical interface format to a textual one. This is particularly useful for visually impaired users who use large screen fonts or speech synthesizers for output.


Search preferences

You can switch to an "advanced" query mode which allows you to combine terms using & (for "and"), | (for "or"), and ! (for "not"), using parentheses for grouping if desired. This allows you to specify more precise queries.

You can switch the search type of the collection between "normal" search, and "fielded" search.

You can turn on the search history feature, which shows you your last few queries. This makes it easy to repeat slightly modified versions of previous queries.

Finally, you can control the number of hits returned, and the number presented on each screenful.