University of Akron’s Westlaw / Lexis Nexis Guide

August 18, 2010

We’ve been reading a bit about the University of Akron School of Law Guides for WesltawNext and LexisNexis Online Research (pdf).  Although Westlaw User Guides are free, I love the idea of  librarians putting these together for all the reasons articulated in the guide.  Of course, I’d not be doing my job, though,  if I didn’t point out the following correction:

Section IIA(2)In fact, Westlaw searches irregular plurals unless you use the pound symbol (#).  So, your search for “goose,” should deliver “geese.” 

and, the following clarification:

Section II Searching Concepts:  This section describes standard boolean searching on Westlaw.  There will always be room for traditional boolean searching.  Very often, traditional boolean logic is essential to complete a research task (e.g. how many times was the phrase “conceptual separability” used in the Ninth Circuit?).  This, you can do on WestlawNext.  And, I think it’s important for students to understand boolean logic.  So, without interfering with the pedogogical concerns of our librarians, let me say that I usually begin my WestlawNext research with a plain language query that takes advantage of the new WestSearch algorithm.  The benefit here is primarily efficiency.  If  I needed to know about the doctrine of conceptual separability, for example, I simply run the phrase in the search box:

and, this tip:

Section IIA(3)If you are using boolean, the pound symbol is also very useful for searching terms typically too common to be searched.  Using the pound symbol forces Westlaw to run a search to otherwise would prefer not to run. For example, if I’m often looking for variations of the phrase “before trial”, try, #before +2 trial.

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