WestlawNext Q&A: Is plain language better than Boolean?

November 29, 2010

Q&A logoQ: Is a plain-language search as effective as one with terms and connectors?

A: Yes. While WestlawNext fully supports Boolean Terms and Connectors searching, the best results are achieved using simple descriptive terms. Because Boolean Terms and Connectors are designed to retrieve the documents that match your query restrictions, it is possible that you may miss some relevant results. A search using simple descriptive terms fully harnesses the power of the WestSearch™ algorithm to get you a much more inclusive and better-ranked result list.

Q: Is West attempting to move research from terms and connectors searches to natural language searches?

A: Boolean Terms and Connectors and Natural Language are primary methods for searching on Westlaw.com. As explained in the previous answer, while WestlawNext fully supports Boolean Terms and Connectors searching, the best results are achieved on WestlawNext when searches are initiated using simple descriptive terms.

Q: How do I search using more than one exact phrase?

A: Click on the Advanced Search link and simply enter your phrases separated by an ampersand in the “This exact phrase” box – for example, “summary judgment” & “failure to state a claim”.

Q: How can I search for cases in the Eastern District of New York without pulling up everything in the 2d Circuit?

A: Run your search in the Content Page: New York Federal District Court cases, and then use the jurisdiction filter to narrow to only those cases in the Eastern District.

For more WestlawNext search tips, be sure to check out our archived collection of WestlawNext Q&A posts.