NotesFAQContact Us
Collection
Advanced
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED340382
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-May
Pages: 62
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Comparing Lexis and Westlaw: Using System Features To Improve Search Results.
Diamond, Rand J.
This paper compares strengths and weaknesses of the Lexis and Westlaw computer assisted legal research systems. Their powerful full text document delivery capabilities are contrasted with their inherent limitations as information retrieval systems. The objective here is to alert users to the complexities of online legal searching and the necessity for evaluating these systems critically. Sample searches highlight the major differences between Westlaw's and Lexis's searching protocols. Comparable features of each system are examined to show how using them correctly improves the quality of search results and to warn of unintended consequences resulting from their misapplication. Specific features compared include field and segment searching, search query editing, browsing results, system employment of automatic equivalencies, and case retrieval shortcuts. Strategies for formulating searches that retrieve relevant cases, prevent the exclusion of potentially relevant cases, and help the searcher cope with database misspellings are considered. The economics of online searching is also addressed to consider which types of searches are performed most economically in each system. Although the searches performed during this study were limited to Ohio case law, they are adaptable for exploring the nuances of online searching in other state and federal jurisdictions. A reference guide for searching Ohio Case Law on both systems is appended, as well as a sample WEST key number index, case law examples of the Westlaw synopsis field, and sample Westlaw and Lexis opinions. (8 references) (Author/MAB)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A