There are number of reasons why it is important to learn terms and connector searching. One is that it focuses your attention on the search query – you need to think what terms to use for your search, how near they should be to each other, and where you want to see them in the case, law review article, treatise, etc.
For example, You want to retrieve documents about a dog or canine or German Shepherd biting or scratching a suspect.
Which is the source more likely to find a case on point?
- dog AND bite AND suspect
- dog OR canine OR “german shepherd” /S bit! OR scratch! /P suspect
Think about the first search – you are requiring Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance to retrieve cases that have the term dog, bite and suspect to be anywhere in the case. Dog could be on page one, bite on page 25, and suspect on page 30. That case may not be very promising.
And the second search – here you are requiring dog, canine or “german shepard” in the same sentence as bite or biting or bitten or scratch within the same paragraph as suspect. Much more promising.
You still may need to adjust your search to find the best cases but you definitely will be further along with search number 2.
And, remember that you also have the ability to filter after the search.
And, of course, before you search you need to decide what resources you are going to search.
Remember that searching is an process. It is an iterative process. You may want to keep notes on what searches worked and which did not. And, keep notes on filtering, etc. For the Research Guide, you provide the search(es) that return the best results. Best search(es) for best results.
You also need to consider the type of materials you are searching. Your search queries for cases may be different that your search queries for law review articles since the terms the author use and the placement with in the materials may be different. And you may decide for statutes that you will use a natural language search rather than a terms and connectors search since statutes are written very differently cases.
A “Google” or “Bing” or other search engine search rarely will suffice in a complex, legal database.
From looking at the answers to the CALI lesson and the assessment quiz, many of you may want to review the materials on searching, especially before you begin working on the Research Guide. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Many of the questions on the Assessment Quiz were from the CALI lesson. So please see again the information about the CALI Lesson.
I just want to comment on a couple of questions that did not involve searching.
DuckDuckGo allows you to search the web without being tracked. You can stay anonymous online. This may be useful in some instances.
American Jurisprudence 2d is NOT more authoritative than Rotunda’s and Nowak’s treatise. American Jurisprudence 2d is an legal encyclopedia. It aims to cover the entire body of legal doctrine in broad strokes. An encyclopedia is not generally seen as a persuasive secondary source, but it usually provides a good overview of an area of law. Nowak’s and Rotunda’s treatise is a very authoritative source. It is an in-depth treatise written by two respected scholars which provides comprehensive coverage of an area of law including criticism and suggested improvements. Treatises, in general, have no binding authority but many are highly respected and have been cited by courts.