Terms and Connectors Searching on Westlaw...

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Oct 24, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Terms and Connectors Searching
on Westlaw
®
...

...is based on Boolean logic
developed from the theories of 19
th

century mathematician George Boole.
You’ll often hear a Terms and
Connectors search called a Boolean
search.



West’s Instructional Aids Series

Contents


Introduction



Terms



Connectors



Fields

West’s Instructional Aids Series

Introduction



Back to Contents

Anxiety over Terms and Connectors
Searching


Beginning and experienced researchers alike often shy
away from Terms and Connectors searching because



“it has to be exactly right or it won’t work”; or



“the rules about which connector to use and the order of
processing are too complicated.”



Neither perception is true.

It does take a little thought to
construct an effective Terms and Connectors search, but
this type of search is based on simple rules and logical
choices, not higher mathematics.

Introduction

Why Use Terms and Connectors
Searching


All databases on Westlaw can be searched using Terms
and Connectors.



Most, but not all, databases can be searched using Natural
Language.



Terms and Connectors searching is very precise.

Introduction

When to Use Terms and Connectors
Searching


you are looking for
particular terms
;



you are searching for a
particular document
; or



you need all documents containing
specific
information
, such as all cases classified under a
particular key number, all newspaper articles that
mention a specific company, or all statutes containing a
particular term.



Introduction

Steps in Constructing a Search:

ITAC Method

(Issue, Terms, Alternatives, Connectors)


1. Clearly state the
ISSUE
,
using legal terminology

when possible.



(Stating your issue as a question is a good way to clarify your
thoughts.)


Is a social host liable for injuries caused by his intoxicated
guests?


Introduction

Steps in Constructing a Search:

ITAC Method



2. Select a few key
TERMS

from your issue.



(Using three to five key terms works well for most issues.)


host injury intoxicated guest

or

host intoxicated guest

Introduction

Steps in Constructing a Search:

ITAC Method


3. Enter reasonable
ALTERNATIVE

terms for
your key terms.


(Use acronyms and antonyms as well as synonyms.)



A term that may seem to have little relationship to a key
term may be a reasonable alternative. The host of a party
could be a corporation, an association, or a club.

host

intoxicated guest

hostess drunk attendee

corporation D.U.I invitee

association


D.W.I.

club



sober

Introduction

Steps in Constructing a Search:

ITAC Method




4. Add appropriate
CONNECTORS

to specify the
relationship you want each term and its
alternatives to have to the other terms and their
alternatives.




host hostess /p intoxicated or drunk or alcohol /s
guest



Introduction

Steps in Constructing a Terms and
Connectors Search: the
ITAC

Method


I
ssue

is defined in legal terminology.



T
erms

that are essential are selected.



A
lternative

terms that are reasonable are selected.



C
onnectors

that connect the terms in reasonable
relationships are added.

Introduction

Once you get the hang of Terms and
Connectors searching, it’s fun.





Introduction

Terms



Back to Contents

Terms





There is no right or wrong way to construct a search; just
proceed using common sense.



Host
,

intoxicated
, and

guest

will be the key terms for this
exercise.



We could have chosen more terms but it’s wise to stick
with the essential terms.


Terms

For this exercise let’s assume you want to retrieve all cases in a
database that address


A social host’s liability for injuries caused by intoxicated guests


Get into the habit of placing your key words in a
horizontal line in your mind, if not actually on paper.




Under each key word add any word that is a reasonable
alternative.



You can probably think of additional alternatives for the
exercise but right now, let’s keep this exercise simple.



host


intoxicated guest

hostess drunk



alcohol

Terms


Terms

Using the Thesaurus to Find Alternative Terms

Thesaurus

The Thesaurus feature on Westlaw provides synonyms and

acronyms for the key words in your query and lets you add them

to your search. The Thesaurus does not provide antonyms and

other irregular alternatives but you can add these terms yourself.

Alternatives

Intoxicated

Terms


Expanders: Making the Most of Terms:


The Root Expander

(
!
)


The root expander (
!
) retrieves all extensions of words
with variant endings (up to 16 characters).



drunk!

retrieves
drunk
,

drunken
,

and
drunkard
.



Be careful not to truncate your root term too severely.
depo!

retrieves not only forms of
deposition
, but also
deposit
,

depositor
,

deposited
,

deport
,

deportation
,

etc.

Terms

Expanders: Making the Most of Terms:

The Universal Character (
*
)



The Universal Character (
*
) is used in place of a letter (like
a wild card or a blank tile in Scrabble).



dr*nk

retrieves
drank
,

drink
,
and

drunk
.



The universal character
cannot

be used in place of the first
letter of a word.



The universal character can be used at the end of a term to
specify how many letters may be added. Example:
object**

would retrieve
object
,
objects
,

and

objected

but

not

objective
.



Terms


Expanders: Making the Most of Terms



More than one expander can be used in a term.



s****holder

retrieves both

shareholder

and
stockholder
.



dr*nk
!

retrieves
drank
,

drink
,

drinkable
,

drunk
,

drinking
,

drunken
,
and

drunkard
.

Terms

Terms: Automatic Enhancements


The singular form of a word automatically retrieves the
plural and possessive forms of the word, including
irregular forms.



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.

Terms

Terms: Automatic Enhancements



Search term
415
also retrieves
415.5
,
415(b)
, and

415(b)(1)(A)
.



415.1

or
415(b
)

will
not

retrieve
415
.



This is helpful when you are looking for mention of a
statute that may or may not be cited as a particular
paragraph or section.













Terms

Terms: Automatic Equivalencies


Most accepted variations of the spelling of a term will
retrieve other accepted variations:


-

Judgment

=

Judgement

-

Millennium

=

Millenium



Automatic equivalencies are built into Westlaw. For
example:


-


Three

=
3

-


First

=

1st

-

New York

=
NY

-

Avenue

=
Ave.





Terms

Terms: Other Enhancements



Hyphenate compound words in your search.



A hyphenated term will retrieve the term whether it is one
word, two words, or a hyphenated word.



good
-
will

retrieves
good will
,

good
-
will
,

or
goodwill
.



If you have any question whether a word might or might not
be hyphenated, add the hyphen. It can’t hurt.


Terms

Terms: Other Enhancements


Use periods between the letters 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
.




Terms

Connectors



Back to Contents

host! /p intoxicat! or dr*nk! or alcohol! /s guest





After you have decided on the terms that you will use in your
search, the next step is to connect each key term and its
alternatives with the other key terms and their alternatives.



A connector specifies the relationship between the terms on
either side of the connector.



Connectors

Connectors

The Most Commonly Used Connectors

Space = Or


host! /p intoxicat! dr*nk! alcohol! /s guest

or

host! /p intoxicat! or dr*nk! or alcohol! /s guest





A space between two terms means “
or
”.



You could type in the word “
or
” if that is easier to remember.




In the query above,
host!

and
guest

are required terms along
with the expansion of any one, two, or three of the terms
intoxicat!

or
dr*nk!

or
alcohol!
.


Connectors

The Most Commonly Used Connectors


/p = Same Paragraph


host! /p intoxicat! dr*nk! alcohol! /s guest





The
/p

connector requires that the terms on one side of the
/p

connector be in the same paragraph as the terms on the other
side of the connector. No particular order is required.



In the above search any expansion of
host!

must be in the same
paragraph as any expansion of
intoxicat!

or

dr*nk!

or
alcohol!

(or any expansions of the any two or all three of the alternative
terms).

Connectors

The Most Commonly Used Connectors


/s = Same Sentence




host! /p intoxicat! dr*nk! alcohol! /s guest





The
/s

connector requires that the terms on one side of the
/s

connector be in the same sentence as the terms on the other
side of the connector. No particular order is required.



In the query above,
guest
must be in the same sentence of the
expansion of
intoxicat!

or
dr*nk!

or
alcohol!

(or any
expansions of the any two or all three of the alternative terms).


Connectors

More Connectors:

& = Same Document




host! /p intoxicat! dr*nk! alcohol! /s guest & insurance



The

&

connector requires that the terms on one side of the
&

connector be in the same document as the terms on the
other side, whether two terms or 200 pages apart.



A document with
good

on page two and
faith

on page 50
most likely won’t be discussing a good
-
faith issue.


The
&

connector is valuable only in limited situations.

Connectors

More Connectors:


& = Same Document




The
&

connector is valuable in the following situations.



If you think one term in your query may not appear near
your other query terms in the documents you want to
retrieve, use the
&

connector.


host! /p intoxicat! dr*nk! alcohol! & insurance



Use the
&

connector when you are searching for terms in
several sections of the document. (More about this type of
search later).

Connectors

More Connectors


Quotation Marks (“ ”) = Phrase


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.



Connectors


/
n

requires that the terms on one side of the
/n

connector
be within a certain number of terms of those on the other
side. No particular order is required and grammatical
structure is ignored.

liability /3 limited


N

represents any number between 1 and 250, for
example,
/3

or
/150
.




/n

is most often used when the words on either side should
be fairly close together but are not invariably in the same
order.
liability /3 limited

would retrieve both
limited

liability


and

liability was limited
.


More Connectors


/n = Number of Terms


Connectors


+s, +p/, +n

connectors require that the terms on the left of
the connector precede the terms on the right within the
specified relationship.

under
-
ground +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
.


More Connectors



The Plus Connectors (+) Order the Terms

Connectors

Connectors and Expanders Reference List

A full list of all connectors

and expanders with brief

explanations of their

use can be accessed

from the Search page in

westlaw.com.
®

Connectors

Connectors/Expanders


Reordering Connectors



Use of Parentheses



Words within parentheses are processed first and then
treated as a unit.



(defect! /s design!) “product liability”

retrieves either
any expansion 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 USCA 1981

or
15 USCA 311
.


Connectors

Your Turn

All the passengers getting off a flight from Miami are taken to
a small room at the airport by the Miami police. They are
questioned and their clothing and luggage are searched.



What is the legal issue?



Can police detain passengers search and seize their
clothing and luggage without probable cause.



What are your key terms?


Connectors


search! seiz! /s clothing luggage back
-
pack /p airport air
-
plane plane & “probable cause”



“search and seizure” /p airport air
-
plane plane /p clothing
luggage back
-
pack /p “probable cause”



Above are two possible searches. There are many other
possible searches.



Neither search is right or wrong
. Usually it takes a few
tries before you retrieve the number of documents you
need to feel confident that you have found enough relevant
documents to continue your research, but not so many as to
be overwhelming.



Connectors

Your Turn Again


Senator Jones has been insisting that the right to contribute
any amount to to a political candidate is constitutionally
protected and any limitation would be a violation of the
First Amendment right of free speech. Is he right?



What is the legal issue? Pick out the key terms, add
reasonable alternatives, and decide on the connectors that
will join each term and its alternative with the other
terms and their alternatives.


You probably won’t have a problem at all!

Connectors

Field Searches



Back to Contents

Fields on Westlaw


Most documents on Westlaw are divided into segments
called fields.



Field searching adds even more precision to a Terms and
Connectors 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

Fields on 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
.



The abbreviation of the field is
immediately

(no space)
followed by parentheses.



A Terms and Connectors search within a field is
constructed in the same way as a as search that is not
restricted to a specific field except that the terms are
entered within the parentheses.


di( “probable cause” /p stop! /p car automobile vehicle)



Fields

Fields


Knowing which fields a database contains and what
information is in each field can greatly increase the
efficiency of your search.



The terms must be in the specified field(s) or the document
will not be retrieved.



The following slide will show some of the fields in a case
law database and their abbreviations that would be used in
a search.


Fields

Fields

This is the template that

appears when you access the
Fields

list. You can

use this template or just enter the search directly into the search

text box. These are just some of the fields in

a case law database.


Fields

You can access a
Fields

list from the Search page
on westlaw.com.

Case Law Fields


on Westlaw

Fields

Case Law Title Field


You need to retrieve a case. All you know is that one
party’s name is Bush and the other party’s name is Gore.



ti(Bush & Gore)

requires that both the terms

Bush

and
Gore
appear in the portion of the document that contains
the names of the parties, the title field.



The
&

connector can be used here because the field is so
small the two terms will necessarily be close together. The
search would be equally effective if
/s
or
/p

had been used
as the connector.



Fields

Case Law Synopsis and Digest Fields


A combination of fields can be searched. Just put a comma
between the fields.



The
sy,di

combination field is a favorite of law students
because it searches both the synopsis and the digest fields
in one search and insures that in the cases retrieved the
issue is central to the case.


sy,di(wrongful! /5 terminat! discharg!)


sy,di(“product liability” /p danger! defect! /p air
-
bag)

Fields




The headnote and synopsis fields are prepared by West
attorney
-
editors


using consistent and current legal terminology




using descriptive terms instead of proper names


adding alternative terms for ambiguous, regional or
outdated words


Examples:


Tenant
is used instead of
Mr. Blake

or
plaintiff


Aspirin
is used instead of
Bufferin

or T
ylenol


Intoxicated

is used instead of
tipsy


A headnote and synopsis field search retrieves many
online

reporter cases that you would otherwise miss.

Case Law Synopsis and Digest Fields

Fields

Synopsis Field

Topic Field

Title Field

Case Law Fields on Westlaw

Fields

Headnote Field

The Digest Field

is a combination
of the Topic and Headnote fields.

A Case Law Field Only on Westlaw

Words and Phrases Field


The Words and Phrases (
wp
) field is used when you need
to find a judicial definition of a word or phrase in the body
of the case. No documents are retrieved that discuss the
word or phrase without defining it.



You will first see the definition in a headnote. Jump from
the headnote to the body of the case to see the court’s exact
wording of the definition.


wp(“constructive discharge”)

Fields

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.

Date

Fields

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) & at(brown) & da(aft 1990)

is the focused
search that would retrieve the case (assuming you are in
the correct database).



Notice the

&

connectors between the fields.
This is an
example of one of the times the & connector
must

be used
.

Without the
&

connectors, your search would retrieve
documents with
Smith

in the title field
or

Brown
in the
attorney field
or

all documents decided after 1990.



Fields

Statutory Law Fields

There are not as many fields in a statutory

law database. Most of these fields are not available in

case law databases.

Fields

Statutory Law Fields: the Citation,
Prelim and Caption Fields


The citation (
ci
) field contains the statute’s citation.


ci(42 +3 198*)

will retrieve the following sections in Title 42:
198 and 1980 to 1989.



pr,ca

is a useful combination of fields in a statutory
database. The

pr
, or prelim, field is the statute’s heading;
the
ca
, or caption, field contains the specific title of that
statute.


pr,ca(“title 11” & exemption)






Fields

Caption Field

Prelim Field

Statutory Fields on Westlaw

Fields

Caption Field

Citation Field

Statutory Law Fields: The Substantive
Document Field


The substantive document (
sd
) field contains all the fields
that are not enhanced by West Group attorney
-
editors (the
“official” segments of the statute).



The
sd

field includes the prelim, citation, caption, text, and
credit fields.



Annotations are
not

included in the
sd

field.


Fields

Combining Unrestricted Searches and
Field 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.

Fields

Your Turn


You need cases since 1980 that discuss the Environmental
Protection Agency regulations concerning underground
storage tanks for which Judge Clifford wrote the appellate
decision. Use the Maine Cases (ME
-
CS) database and
construct an effective search using both free text searching
and field searching.


Hint:
A case might use the phrase
underground gasoline tank

or
underground oil tank

or
underground storage tank
.


Fields

Terms and Connectors Searching


Terms and Connectors searching is easy to master.



Just remember
ITAC
.



If you feel you need help in constructing a Terms and
Connectors search call the West Reference Attorneys:


1
-
800
-
850
-
WEST


Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week


You will need to be able to articulate your issue.


Good luck!



Conclusion