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Basic Terms & Connectors Searching

This research guide will offer help with basic terms and connectors searching in Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law.

Analyze Your Facts

Things - Ask yourself the What question. Things can be tangible as well as intangible.

Relief - The desired or potential outcomes. Parties may want different types of relief.  This is useful to brainstorm because sometimes damages and relief become an issue in a law suit.

Causes of Action & Defenses - The potential claims asserted and responses to those claims.  Begin with identifying if something is civil or criminal, federal or state, procedural or substantive.

People - Ask yourself the Who question - parties or people involved and their relationships and roles

Places - Ask yourself the Where question -- jurisdiction, type of location, and other relevant place information

Selecting a Source

Initial Considerations

  • Choose narrowest database possible that will fit your research needs
    • Smallest is cheapest
    • Must still be relevant
    • Check coverage
  • Focus initially on your jurisdictions

Methods

  • Browse Online Directories
  • Search for a Source

 

Choosing a Search Method

Search Method
Bloomberg Law
Lexis Advance
Westlaw
Documents by citation Yes Yes Yes
Headnotes Some Yes Yes
Topic Search Some Yes See Key Number search
Key Number Search  No No Yes
Natural Language No Yes Yes
Terms & Connectors Yes Yes Yes

Choosing Terms - Synonyms

Are there other words or terms meaning the same thing?

  • Link with OR connector

Ven Diagram of Or connector

The Venn diagram shows 3 concentric circles illustrating 3 synonymous terms linked with the OR connector in a search. The innermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term child. The next circle is labeled as the result set for the term minor and encompasses the result set for child as well. The outermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term juvenile and encompasses the result sets for the terms child and minor.

Choosing Terms - Related Terms

What related terms might be useful?

  • Link with OR connector

Ven Diagram Using Or Connector

The Venn diagram above shows 3 concentric circles illustrating 3 related terms linked with the OR connector in a search. The innermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term cat. The next circle is labeled as the result set for the term dog and encompasses the result set for cat as well. The outermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term animal and encompasses the result sets for the terms cat and dog.

Choosing Terms - Broader terms

Are there broader terms for your concept?

  • Link with OR connector

Ven Diagram of Or connector

The Venn diagram above shows 3 concentric circles illustrating 3 related terms going from narrowest to broadest and linked with the OR connector in a search. The innermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term pit-bull. The next circle is labeled as the result set for the term pet and encompasses the result set for pit-bull as well. The outermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term animal and encompasses the result sets for the terms pit-bull and pet.

Choosing Terms - Narrower terms

Are there narrower terms for your concept?

  • Link with OR connector

Ven diagram of Or connector

The Venn diagram above shows 3 concentric circles illustrating 3 related terms going from narrowest to broadest and linked with the OR connector in a search. The innermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term pit-bull. The next circle is labeled as the result set for the term pet and encompasses the result set for pit-bull as well. The outermost circle is labeled as the result set for the term animal and encompasses the result sets for the terms pit-bull and pet.

 

Choosing Terms - Stop / Noise Words

Stop or Noise words are frequently occurring, insignificant words.  An example might be articles, pronouns, and prepositions – the, of, a, etc.

Eliminate stop / noise words from a terms & connectors search.

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