Thursday, May 31, 2007

Research Tip: Use an Index


Westlaw and LexisNexis are great resources for doing legal research. They have thousands of databases of full-text documents, including statutes, regulations, cases, and articles from law reviews and other legal periodicals.

But searching a full-text database can be time-consuming and frustrating. How many times have you run what seems like a very precise search in a full-text database of journals and law reviews, and ended up having to sort through hundreds of articles in which your search terms appear only in the footnotes.

One way to improve the relevance of your search results is to use a legal periodical index such as LegalTrac or WilsonWeb. Because these indexes typically search just the most important parts of articles, like the title and abstract, they are much more likely to retrieve articles you can use. You can use LegalTrac from any computer on the SIUC campus network, but you must be connected to the law-school network to use WilsonWeb.

Westlaw and LexisNexis also have legal-periodical indexes: both systems have Legal Resource Index, the database that LegalTrac searches, and Westlaw has Index to Legal Periodicals, the WilsonWeb database. The indexes link you to full-text articles available on the system you are using.

Indexes can save you time and improve the relevance of your search results. For more information see:

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