Sargable Science

Some queries can be optimized; others can’t. This is due to the structure of the query itself, which in turn is due to the structure of the underlying data. “Sargable” is database-speak for Search ARGument ABLE.1 A query is sargable if it can be optimized, e.g. by creating and using an index. It’s a good idea to write sargable queries.

This is what FAIR2 is all about: making results actionable for query planning and optimization, both for your future self, your collaborators, and for any automated agents you might wish to deploy to facilitate discovery.


  1. Selinger et al., Access Path Selection in a Relational Database System (1979). ↩︎

  2. Wilkinson, M., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. et al. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Sci Data 3, 160018 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2016.18 ↩︎