Module 2 : CALI Lessons : Introduction to Search Logic and Strategies : Evaluating Websites

CALI Introduction to Search Logic & Strategies

There are  number of reasons why it is important to learn terms and connectors 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 terms in the case, law review article, treatise, etc.

For example, if 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?

  1.  dog  AND bite AND suspect
  2. (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 terms 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.  The cases you are looking for may not be at the top of the results list.

And the second search – you are requiring Dog, Canine or “German Shepard” to be in the same sentence as Bite or Biting or Bitten or Scratch and that sentence to be in  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 the second search.

And, remember that you also have the ability to filter the results and to search within the search.

And, of course, before your search,  you need to decide what resources you are going to use.

Remember that searching is an process.  It is an iterative process. You may want to keep  notes on which searches worked and which did not. And, keep notes on filtering, etc.

For the Research Guide, you must 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 than cases.

The searches that most of us use for “Google”  or “Bing” or any  other  search engine rarely will suffice in a complex, legal database.

CALI Evaluating Websites

Additional information on Domain Names:

.org started out for non-profit organizations but now it is used for both non-profit and for-profit entities.  Entities using .org is very diverse, including cultural institutions, associations, sports teams, religious, and civic organizations, open-source software projects, schools, environmental initiatives, social, and fraternal organizations, health organizations, legal services, as well as clubs, and community-volunteer groups. Some cities also use .org.

.com started out for commercial entities but it now it is used for general purposes, including state agencies.  For  example, is the URL for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.