Quick Search

The Quick Search facility on each page is the most straightforward way to find a list of occurrences of a word you are interested in. Simply type a word or phrase into the search box, and click ‘Search’.

Wildcards are accepted:


The Search page allows you to perform several popular types of search, and to browse all of the documents in the corpus.

On the right hand side of the search box is a quick statistical summary of the current contents of the corpus (number of documents, total number of words). To see which revision of the search software and dataset is currently active please refer to the footer of every page. Information on the datasets is available from Updates.

For greater control over the results you receive you can enter criteria into the search box. Hovering your mouse over each field will give a more detailed description. Only enter criteria into the boxes you are interested in: for example if you want to find all of the texts by female authors or involving female participants, select ‘Female’ in the Gender box, leave other boxes empty and click ‘Search’. Submitting a search with all fields empty will return all documents.

If you are looking for examples of a particular word or phrase, type this into the Word/Phrase box. Bear in mind that the search system will only find examples in exactly the form entered, so typing ‘neep’ will return only ‘neep’ and not the plural or other inflected forms. However, wildcards are accepted in the Word/Phrase box (see Quick Search above for details).

You can also search for a particular author, by surname or ID number where authors have asked to remain anonymous. ‘Author’ here does not mean just well-known writers of poems and fiction, but the author of a text of any type. While SCOTS contains several texts by well-known authors, our aim is not to represent literary Scots alone.

The Author/Participant boxes allow you to specify texts by gender and/or by the region of birth or residence of authors and participants. Bear in mind that this information is not available for all authors and participants – some have requested that we do not make this information available.

Within the Document options, you can also choose to limit the results to only Spoken texts or only Written texts, and search by document title (if this is known), or for documents containing a particular word in their title. This feature is most useful once you are familiar with the content of the corpus. Finally here, you can specify documents written or recorded within a date range (please note that both boxes must be filled in). For example, to return all documents written or recorded after 2000, type ‘2000’ into the ‘From’ box, and the current year into the ‘To’ box.

All combinations of these search criteria are possible, but remember that the more criteria you specify, the fewer documents are likely to be returned.

Results page

Performing a search using either the Quick or the regular Search facilities takes you to a Results page, with two main parts: a Search Results summary, and a list of documents. If you have used the Quick Search, or if your Search involved a word/phrase search, then the list of documents will also show the first examples of the word/phrase in its immediate context, up to a maximum of five for each document.

The Search Results summary shows:

The Document list contains a list of all the documents which meet the criteria you have specified. Clicking on the title of a document allows you to view the document in full. If you have searched for a particular word or phrase, clicking on an occurrence of that word or phrase will take you directly to that place within the document.

This list may be reordered in various ways, by clicking on the highlighted terms in the title bar:

The normalised frequency shows how many times the word/phrase would appear if the document were 1,000 words long. This normalisation allows the occurrence of words in documents of varying lengths to be compared directly. For example, if a word has a frequency of 1 in a 1,000-word document then the normalised frequency is 1. If a word has a frequency of 1 in a 500-word document then the normalised frequency is 2.

Where a large number of documents meet the specified criteria they are split up into a number of pages: you can navigate through these in turn, jump to any point, or change the number of documents shown on each page.

At the bottom of the page a table records your five most recently viewed documents for quick reference.

Document pages

The Options box on the right of each document page allows you to access information about the document and its author, to view and download the plain text document, and to play and download audio and/or video (where applicable).


Detailed metadata information about the document, author/participants is provided in sections which you may expand and contract by selecting the heading you are interested in. Please note that such information is available only where we have obtained the authors’ and participants’ permission to make it public. The Advanced Search allows you to specify metadata criteria for a search.

Plain text

You may view or download the document as plain text. Viewing will automatically word-wrap the text; however downloading will not, and if it is required you will need to activate this feature in your text editor.

Play multimedia

This feature is only available for multimedia (audio or video) documents. When you click here, a secondary window will pop up containing the audio or video clip. See the Details page for information on the necessary media player equipment.

The keep on top option will periodically check that the playback window is at the front of your screen. If you wish for this to remain underneath other windows, please deselect this option.

The synchronise transcription option enables the transcription in the main window to reposition itself automatically with playback. The current section of transcription is highlighted, and the transcription will scroll. You may (via word/phrase matches or directly) reposition the playback from the main window by clicking on the section you wish to hear.

Advanced Search

The Advanced search facility allows you much greater possibilities for building up a complex search than the regular search facility, and shows the results in additional ways.

The Advanced search page consists of three elements: Select your criteria, Your search profile and Search results. When you first visit the Advanced search, the search results will list all of the documents in the corpus by default.

To build up a search profile, browse the options available under Select your criteria by expanding the sections:

Click the plus sign (+) to add the criterion to your search profile. This can be removed at any point by clicking the minus sign (-) next to the selection box for that criterion.

Under Your search profile you will see all of the criteria which you have selected. There are a number of different types of selection method:

After adding or changing criteria hit Return or click elsewhere in the window for the search results to be updated (changes to tick boxes or drop-down boxes automatically prompt a search).

It is possible to include a criterion more than once. For example if you wish to find all documents between 1,000 and 2,000 words long, select word count twice, specifying >= 1000 in one and <= 2000 in the other. The same can be applied to word/phrase; however, please note you can use word/phrase (concordance) only once.

Wildcards are accepted here (see Quick Search above for details).

Not all combinations of criteria will yield results. As with the regular search, remember that the more criteria you specify, the fewer documents are likely to meet those criteria.

The Search Results section has up to four parts, depending on the type of search carried out. First, there is a results summary box, which tells you:

There follows a Map, a Concordance (if you have searched for a word/phrase), and a list of documents. Each of these functions can be deselected. If you are only interested in one, then deselect the others for faster search results.


The flags on the map, powered by Google Maps, indicate the type of language user at that geographical location:

Author Author

Participant Participant

Author and participant Author and participant

Clicking on a flag displays additional information listing the number of authors, participants and documents linked to that location. There is also the option to Show details, giving a list of relevant documents to the right of the map. The flags can be made to represent place of residence, birth place, father's birth place or mother's birth place; these options can be selected from the drop-down list above the map. Please note that this information was optional to submitters, and therefore not all documents have this piece of associated metadata.

The map provides navigation arrows and the ability to zoom in and out. For the purposes of consistency, place names may differ slightly from those given by the authors or participants in the information accompanying each document. You can also choose between a map, a satellite image or a combination of the two.


A KWIC (key word in context) concordance will be visible if a word/phrase (concordance) search has been performed. The concordance shows all of the instances of the word/phrase in their immediate linguistic context. The concordance can be re-ordered in various ways by clicking on the headings: alphabetically by document title, by the word/phrase itself (the node) or according to the words up to five positions to the left or right of the node.

Document list

The final element of the Advanced search results page is a document list. This functions in a similar way to the document list in the results page of the Quick and regular search facilities. One additional feature here is a facility for downloading multiple documents at once. Documents to be downloaded can be selected by checking the box in the first column. Alternatively, all documents may be selected or deselected using the buttons at the bottom of the list. Then press ‘Download’ to begin the process of bulk download. This will give you a zip file containing three files for each document downloaded: one plain text file (UTF-8) of the text itself; one plain text file containing the associated metadata; one XML file containing the text and metadata in XML format.

Software requirements

This website makes extensive use of standards compliant technologies (HTML5, CSS3 etc.), and therefore requires a modern browser for the best experience.

Multimedia playback requires a browser that can support HTML5 Audio and Video. Most modern browsers support these formats.

The page layout is 'responsive' and is designed to function on all types of screens from desktop PCs to smartphones and tablets.

Javascript is required for some advanced functions:

Cookies are used for the following operations:

Stuck for ideas? Try this...

The most effective way to become familiar with the possibilities which SCOTS offers is to try out a few searches, get to know the texts, play around with the results and see for yourself what happens when you select different options. If you are stuck for ideas, why not try working through the following search, which might give you ideas of techniques you can try with words and documents that you are particularly interested in. You might find it useful to open two browser windows, one for these instructions and one to carry out corpus searches.

Go to the Advanced Search, and wait for the page to load fully.

  1. Under ‘Select your criteria’, click on General, Word search, and Word/phrase (concordance)

  2. In the criteria selection box which appears under ‘Your search profile’, type ‘cloot*’ (using an asterisk as a wildcard), and either hit Return on your keyboard or click elsewhere in the open window.

  3. You should find that there are over 90 occurrences of ‘cloot*’, and that it occurs in about 40 documents, which together total about a third of a million words.

  4. Scroll down the page to see the map showing the places of residence of the authors and speakers who use the word in the corpus. Switch between Residence, Birth place, Father birth place and Mother birth place, to see how this affects the position of the flags. Click on a few flags to see the town name, and number of authors/speakers and documents here.

  5. Scroll down further to the KWIC (key word in context) concordance below the map. Here you will see all 92 occurrences of the search word, ‘cloot*’, in their immediate linguistic context. Try reordering the concordance, by clicking on the different headings.

    1. Sort by node word: what related forms of ‘cloot’ are there? How do these relate to the form you typed in? Are they plural forms, variant spellings, familiar forms?
    2. Sort by document title: does the word occur in different forms within one text? Which documents contain most occurrences of the word?
    3. Sort by the word to the left of the node: which words occur most commonly in this position? Do any of these words surprise you?
    4. Sort by the word to the right of the node: which word is most common in this position? Is this an expression you’re familiar with? If not, can you work out its meaning from the context?

  6. Go back up to the top of the Advanced Search page. Now try to limit the search using some of the other metadata criteria. For example, with ‘cloot*’ still in the Word search box, go up to ‘Select your criteria’ and click on General, Document details, and Spoken or written. This will add a new box to ‘Your search profile’. Alternate between ‘Spoken’ and ‘written’ to see how the word is being used in spoken and written documents.

  7. Scroll down to the list of spoken documents in which ‘cloot*’ occurs. Click on the title of one of these documents to see the full transcription. On the transcription page, click on the Play Multimedia button at the foot of the page, to listen to the recording. You can jump to different points in the recording or transcription, by clicking on the audio bar or any word in the transcription. Can you hear differences in pronunciation depending on where in Scotland the speaker was born, or now lives?

  8. Now try specifying further criteria in the ‘Select your criteria’ section. Or start again with a new word: neep, scunner, outwith, Scottish, peerie… Remember to use wildcards to find different forms of words.