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BerwickPPT1sp04

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Published on December 10, 2007

Author: Dixon

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Boolean Language and Database Structure:  Boolean Language and Database Structure Legal Research & Writing Spring 2005 Portions of this lecture are adapted from West’s Instructional Aids Series: Terms and Connectors Searching on Westlaw® The Agenda:  The Agenda Search Theory and Techniques Types of searching Boolean Keyword Methods of Searching Database Types and Structures Content Organization Provenance Computer Searching: What You Have Already Done :  Computer Searching: What You Have Already Done Searching the Web with a search engine like Infoseek, Google, etc. Searching specialized databases while working on undergraduate or other post-graduate degrees, e.g. Academic Universe, First Search Databases:  Databases What is a Database? A collection of digitized information organized in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of data. Databases are Made Up of “records” Think: documents Records/Documents are Made Up of “fields” Fields contain the individual elements of information Types of Databases:  Types of Databases Highly organized containing identical document types with a common structure and standard set of defined and marked fields Variable, with many diverse types of documents, consisting of various structures, formats and few defined and consistent fields Terminology May Vary:  Terminology May Vary Search Techniques: The Process:  Search Techniques: The Process Identify a Database likely to contain the information you need Determine the exact contents of that database Coverage, Scope Type of Documents (Cases, Statutes, Text, etc.) Structure of Records (Fields) Accuracy (Provenance) Currency Search Techniques: The Process:  Search Techniques: The Process Determine the type of searching supported by that DB’s architecture Will it support full Boolean search queries? Is it designed for keyword searching? Is it designed for concept-based/natural language searching? Search Techniques: The Process:  Define your issues Formulate a search query accordingly Generate Synonyms, Use Thesaurus if available Remember the fundamental concept, most DBs consist of words The art of searching lies in understanding how your issue is likely to be expressed in the documents contained within the database Search Techniques: The Process The Searcher’s Quandry:  The Searcher’s Quandry Relevancy vs. Precision You want to retrieve every relevant document You want no irrelevant documents in your search results With professional searching, you will err on the side of relevancy Boolean Searching:  Boolean Searching The tool of choice for professionals Maximizes both relevance and precision Based on mathematical “Set Theory” In Westlaw is labeled: “Terms and Connectors” Boolean Searching: Logical Operators:  Boolean Searching: Logical Operators Three Logical Operators AND (Conjunctive) OR (Disjunctive) NOT (Exclusionary) Based on the idea of a universe of elements Basic Connectors: AND:  erisa and divorce Basic Connectors: AND AND narrows search and retrieves records containing all of the words it separates Basic Connectors: OR:  OR broadens searches and retrieves records containing any of the words it separates. In Westlaw type OR, or leave a space between terms In Lexis, you must type the OR between terms Basic Connectors: OR Farmer or “estate tax” Basic Connectors: NOT:  NOT Narrows searches and retrieves records that do not contain the term following it. In Lexis, type AND NOT between terms In Westlaw type BUT NOT, or leave % between terms Basic Connectors: NOT Capital and not gains Boolean Searching: Combining Connectors:  Complex searches use multiple connectors (fraud or theft or breach) and erisa Boolean Searching: Combining Connectors The shaded areas indicated by the arrows reflect your set of retrieved documents. Boolean Searching: Phrase Searching:  Use quotation marks in most DBs for limit your search result set to those documents which contain the specific phrase Example: “Puerto Rico”, “Underground Storage Tank” Some DBs use ADJ as a connector to indicate words adjacent to each other in either order Boolean Searching: Phrase Searching Phrase Searching:  Phrase Searching Quotation marks around a phrase or term of art, such as “limited liability,” are used only when the concept is invariably stated the same way each time it is used. Consider whether the phrase could appear another way, such as “liability was limited”. A safer search would be to require limited and liability to be within the same sentence or within a specified number or words of each other. Westlaw: “limited liability” Lexis: limited liability Boolean Searching: Numerical Connectors:  A type of proximity searching Restricts search result set to those containing your terms within a certain number of words before/after or within each other Order of terms is irrelevant Example: host /10 guest /n in Westlaw and Lexis Some DBs use the term NEAR Boolean Searching: Numerical Connectors Boolean Searching: Grammatical Connectors:  A type of proximity searching Restricts search result set to those containing your terms within a certain grammatical unit, a sentence or paragraph Order of terms is irrelevant Example: Intoxication /s guest Intoxicated /p guest /s in Westlaw, /s in Lexis Boolean Searching: Grammatical Connectors Boolean Searching:Ordered Connectors Numeric & Grammatical:  Boolean Searching:Ordered Connectors Numeric & Grammatical Ordered connectors require that the terms on the left of the connector precede the terms on the right within the specified relationship. Westlaw: under-ground +4 tank Lexis: under-ground or underground pre/4 tank This query requires that underground precedes tank by no more than four words. Any word(s) can appear between storage and tank. This connector is often used when a word must appear twice within the specified relationship. jones +5 jones could be used to find references to Jones v. Jones. Boolean Searching: Connectors Summary:  Boolean Searching: Connectors Summary Boolean Searching: Common Wildcard Symbols:  Boolean Searching: Common Wildcard Symbols * Truncation. This expands a search term to include all forms of a root word, eg: patent* retrieves patent, patents, patentable, patented, etc. ! Root Expander for finding alternative spellings. Use to indicate an unlimited number of characters after a root syllable, eg: host! retrieves host, hostess, hosted, hosting Boolean Searching: Common Wildcard Symbols:  Boolean Searching: Common Wildcard Symbols Single-character wildcard for finding alternative spellings. Sometimes represented by the ?, sometimes by the *. Example: The ? represents a single character; two ?? represent two characters; three ??? represent three characters, and so on. Use within or at the end of a word, eg: wom?n finds woman as well as women, and carbon fib?? finds carbon fiber or carbon fibre. Boolean Searching: Automatic Enhancements:  Boolean Searching: Automatic Enhancements The singular form of a word (or number) automatically retrieves the plural and possessive forms of the word, including irregular forms. Search term 415 also retrieves 415.5 or 415(b). The plural or possessive, however, will not retrieve the singular. Woman retrieves women, woman’s and women’s; women or woman’s will not retrieve woman. Use the singular form of a word unless you have a good reason not to. Boolean Searching: Hyphenated Words:  Boolean Searching: Hyphenated Words On Lexis, a hyphen within a word is treated as a space. Ex: post-conviction gets post-conviction and post conviction but not postconviction. On Lexis, if you have any question whether a word is hyphenated or not, search for both versions: post-conviction AND postconviction Boolean Searching: Hyphenated Words:  Boolean Searching: Hyphenated Words On Westlaw, a hyphen does not function as a space. It functions as a command to the system to look for all three variants: Ex: post-conviction gets post-conviction and post conviction and also postconviction. On Westlaw, if you have any question whether a word might or might not be hyphenated, add the hyphen. It can’t hurt. Boolean Searching: Acronyms:  Boolean Searching: Acronyms Westlaw: Use periods between the letters of an acronym to retrieve all variations of the acronym. periods between letters; spaces between letters; periods and spaces between the letters; no period or spaces between letters. E.P.A. retrieves E.P.A, E P A, E. P. A., and EPA. Lexis: You would need to type out alternative forms of a term separated by the "or" connector E.P.A. or E. P. A. or EPA or E P A Putting the Words Together :  Putting the Words Together The first step is always identifying your issues and choosing words which express the concept Always consider synonyms and word variants Your search terms can then be combined with the connectors in a type of algebraic search string For this exercise let’s assume you want to retrieve all cases in a database that address: The liability of private party (a/k/a social) hosts for the acts of an intoxicated party guest Boolean Searching: Advanced Features:  Boolean Searching: Advanced Features Order of Processing Issues Change Default Search Order: Nesting Search Terms through the use of parenthesis Think Junior High algebra equations Date Restrictions Segment Searching/Field Restrictors Order of Processing Connectors:  Order of Processing Connectors “ “ OR Numerical Proximity Connectors (smallest to largest) Grammatical Connectors (/s before /p) AND NOT E.g. host! /p intoxicat! or dr*nk! or alcohol! /s guest Changing the Default Order of Processing :  Changing the Default Order of Processing Words within parentheses are processed first and then treated as a unit. (defect! /s design!) or “product liability” retrieves either any extension of defect within the same sentence as any extension of design or “product liability”. Parentheses are useful when you are searching for citations to multiple statutes: (42 +3 1981) (15 +3 311) will retrieve mention of 42 USC 1981 or 42 USCA 1981 or 15 USC 311 or 15 USCA 311. The Date Restriction Field:  The Date Restriction Field The date restriction (da) field is available in databases in which the documents are dated, such as case law, administrative decisions, and journals and law review databases. You can require documents after a date, before a date, between two dates or on a specific date. The added date (ad) field is used only to determine when documents were added to Westlaw. Fields/Segments:  Fields/Segments Remember: most documents in databases are divided into sections of text called fields (Westlaw) or segments (Lexis) Field searching adds even more precision to a Boolean search. The names and number of fields that a document contains depends on the type of database. A case law database has different fields than a statute law database. For example, there is no judge field in a statutory database. Fields on Westlaw:  Fields on Westlaw In Westlaw, most fields are entered in the search as a two-letter abbreviation. For example, the abbreviation for the title field in case law is “ti”. In Lexis, full segment names are entered into the search. The abbreviation of the field is immediately (no space) followed by parentheses. A multi-term search within a field is constructed in the same way as a search that is not restricted to a specific field except that the terms are entered within the parentheses. Multiple Field Searching in Case Law:  Multiple Field Searching in Case Law What if you only know that one party’s name is Smith, that Smith’s attorney’s name is Brown and that the case was decided after 1990? ti(smith) AND at(brown) AND da(aft 1990) is the focused search that would retrieve the case (assuming you are in the correct database). Combining Unrestricted Searches and Field/Segment Searches:  Combining Unrestricted Searches and Field/Segment Searches Many searches are a combination of unrestricted or free-text searches (words can be found anywhere in the document) and field searches. “dying declaration” /p (time hour minute second day) /p (admiss! inadmissible admit!) & ju(jackson) This search retrieves cases addressing a dying declaration and how long it can be asserted before death and be admissible according to Judge Jackson’s previous decisions. Other Types of Searching:  Other Types of Searching Natural Language Concept-Based Keyword Searching

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