Searching Lexis by jrr15832


                      The Newsletter of the Bora Laskin Law Library

April 1996                                                               Volume 2, Number 7

Searching Lexis                                 or in the Program Manager on the PC's. When
by Gian Medves                                  you see Client ID screen hit <Enter> and the
Computer Services Librarian                     Lexis/Nexis Library screen will appear. You can
                                                then begin your online legal research.
What is Lexis?
Lexis is an American legal database service     How to get your own password
which contains hundreds of full-text files of   You can purchase your own Lexis password,
American and International legal materials      which will enable you to dial into Lexis from
including:                                      home by filling out an application form (avail-
•The United States Code and Code of Fed-        able at the Library’s Circulation Desk) and
eral Regulations                                returning it along with a cheque to the library.
•U.S. State legislative material                The password is good for the length of the
•American case law                              school year and costs $30.00 for access to Lexis
•Full-text of many law reviews and legal        and $40.00 for access to both Lexis and Nexis.
•United Kingdom case law and statutes
•Commonwealth case law
                                                How to Search...
•European Community legislation and             Lexis searching can be divided into 3basic
 case law                                       operations:
•International treaties and other interna-      1) Query preparation
 tional legal materials                         2) Examining the search results
                                                3) Downloading and printing.
Lexis also provides access to a database of
business sources through its Nexis service.     1) Query Preparation
How to Connect                                  Identify the issue...
Faculty members who want to connect to          Write down the concepts or keywords that
Lexis/Nexis from their offices can contact      describe your research problem best. For ex-
Gian at x85537 for a password and instruc-      ample, if you are searching for cases in which a
tions. Law students can connect to Lexis/       doctor was sued for performing an operation
Nexis free of charge from the Computer Lab      that resulted in the amputation of a limb your
on either Macs #7 and #8 or PCs #7 and          keywords would include doctor, malpractice,
#8.                                             amputation and limb.

To open Lexis, double-click on the Lexis/
Nexis Icon in the Main Menu on the Macs
Look for synonyms and alternate ex-                      (w/#) (the proximity indicator) enables you
pressions...                                             to indicate the desired proximity of one or
In this example you would also look for the words        more words to another word or group of
physician or surgeon and negligence and leg or           words. # stands for a number from 1 to 255.
arm. You do not want to miss any cases where an          For example, charter w/2 rights will look
alternate term is used.                                  for charter within 2 words of rights; biologi-
                                                         cal OR natural w /10 father will look for
Truncate...                                              either the word biological or natural within
in order to retrieve the various endings for a word      10 words of father.
root. In Lexis, the truncation command is repre-         (w/s) looks for documents with the search
sented by an exclamation point (!). In our example       terms in the same sentence.
                                                         (w/p) looks for documents with the search
the word amputation can be truncated to amputat!
                                                         terms in the same paragraph.
to retrieve the words amputate, amputated, ampu-
tating, etc.
                                                         Determine if segment searching
Choose appropriate connectors...                         is required...
AND specifies that both terms on either side of the      In Lexis, documents are divided into seg-
AND must appear somewhere within the same                ments, which are the natural parts or divi-
document (e.g. drunk AND driving).                       sions of the document. For example, cases
OR requires that at least one (or more) of your          contain name, date, court, opinion and
search words occurs in a document (e.g. doctor OR        dissent segments while newspaper docu-
physician OR surgeon).                                   ments contain headline, byline, dateline,
                                                         date and body segments. Segment searching
                                                         allows you to limit your search by typing the
                                                         segment name and then the keywords in
         LawLink                                         brackets. For example, name (smith AND
         The Newsletter of the Bora Laskin Law Library   jones) will locate cases where you know the
                                                         party names. To see what segments are
                                                         available in a particular database, click on
LawLink is published 9 times a year by the staff of
                                                         the Segments box located in the toolbar
the Bora Laskin Law Library. LawLink's purpose
is to inform Law faculty and students of upcoming        while in that database, and a listing of the
                                                         available segments will be provided.
library activities, new developments in legal
research and new electronic sources of legal
                                                         Some segments are arithmetically search-
                                                         able. These segments use the following
Extracts from this publication may be reproduced
                                                                  = is equal to or is
for individual use without permission provided that
                                                                  > aft greater than or after
the source is fully acknowledged.
                                                                  < bef less than or before
                                                         If, for example, in the sample search involv-
LawLink is available on the Bora Laskin Law
                                                         ing doctors and malpractice, we wanted to
Library's home page
                                                         restrict the search to decisions from 1994 to
                                                         the present we would add date > 1993 or
                                                         date aft 1993 to the search string.
Please direct comments, suggestions or submis-
sions to Susan Barker, LawLink editor at 978-5799
or by e-mail to

    LawLink Volume 2, Number 7                                                              2
Determine which files to search...               Lexis display formats
The Lexis service is divided into Libraries      Select a display format from the toolbar or pull-
and Files.You will see the Libraries screen      down menu.
once you sign on to Lexis. A library is a        KWIC (Key Words in Context) displays a
large collection of sources relevant to the      window of 25 words on each side of your search
same topic; libraries are comprised of files     words. Use the KWIC format to see the context
(e.g. the ENGGEN library contains case law       and quickly determine if a document is on target.
and statutes for the United Kingdom). The        Full displays the full text of a document. You
Libraries are divided into topical as well as    can then hit the enter key to page down through
jurisdictional groups. To select a library you   a document or you can select next page or
must type a Library code and hit <Enter>.        previous page from the toolbar.
Once you have selected a library you must        Cite displays the citations or bibliographic
then select a file within that library. There    references of the documents the search has
are two types of files: group files and indi-    retrieved. To view a document on the list type
vidual files. A group file is a collection of    the number of the document and hit <Enter>.
sources relevant to the same general topic or    Variable KWIC displays 50 words of text on
sources that are similar in type (e.g.           each side of each highlighted search word. It can
ALLREV is a combined file of full-text law       be adjusted to display from 1 - 999 words by
reviews and law journals). An individual file    typing .vk followed by the desired number of
contains one information source or publica-      words.
tion in a file by itself; individual files are   Segments lets you view selected segments of a
comprised of documents. (e.g. HLREV              document.
contains only full-text articles from the
Harvard Law Review).                             Focus
                                                 Another useful command is FOCUS. The focus
Our final search query would look like           feature allows you to highlight words within the
this...                                          documents in your search results even if those
doctor OR physician OR surgeon AND               words were not part of your original query.
malpractice OR negligence AND amputat!           When you are in a document you can type .FO
w/10 limb OR arm OR leg AND date aft             or select FOCUS from the toolbar menu and
1993                                             Lexis will let you highlight any term or terms.
                                                 You can then search for those terms using the
Execute the Search...                            KWIC or VAR KWIC formats to see if they
Once you have prepared a search query you        appear anywhere in the document. To exit the
can go on-line and execute your search in an     FOCUS feature type .EF or select the Exit
appropriate database by typing in the search     FOCUS button from the toolbar.
terms that you have chosen and pressing
enter.                                           Modify the Search
                                                 If your search query found no documents or the
                                                 documents that were found do not appear rel-
2) Examine the Search Results
                                                 evant, you can modify your search. To modify
The next step is to examine your search          your search type M. At this point, you cannot
results, using one of the following display      edit your search but can only modify it by
formats, to determine if the cases retrieved     adding additional terms to it. The only time you
are appropriate.                                 can edit an existing search in Lexis is when your

LawLink Volume 2, Number 7                                                            3
search request has retrieved no documents or        To download...
more than a thousand documents. At that point       •Display the document you want to down-
you are given the option of editing your exist-     load.
ing search query by deleting terms or adding        •Click Print Doc on the toolbar.
new ones. Another option is to take the search      •Choose a delivery method from those
query into another file and see if you can          listed.
retrieve more documents there. To transfer your     •Confirm the format that you want - the
query to another file select Chg File from the      default is Full.
toolbar and your search query will be taken         •Confirm your choice and continue
with you. To begin a completely new search          your research.
select New Search from the toolbar or from the
pull-down menu and you will be given a blank        The downloading process will not com-
query screen to start over. To return to the main   mence until you sign off. When you sign off,
library screen in Lexis type .CL for Change         you’ll be asked to name the file and specify
Library or select Chg Library from the toolbar      that you want to print or save it to disk. We
or pull-down menu.                                  recommend that you download retrieved
                                                    documents to a file and print the file after
Additional Search Features                          you disconnect from Lexis. This will allow
Lexis also has two services that allow you to       you to retrieve a downloaded file into word
retrieve the full text of documents when you        processing software where you may refor-
know the citation.                                  mat the text and then print. If you try print-
LEXSEE allows you to retrieve such docu-            ing from Lexis and there is a problem (e.g.
ments as cases and articles from law reviews        your connection is terminated or the printer
and journals. To use LEXSEE, type lexsee            jams), you may have to re-establish your
followed by the citation or select LEXSEE           connection and start your search process all
from the toolbar or pull-down menu and type         over again.
the citation in the space provided; e.g. lexsee
498 us 146 - will pull up the case Minnick v.       Downloading Tips
Mississippi, 498 U.S. 146.                          •Save your document to disk, then print just
LEXSTAT lets you retrieve the full text of          what you need.
state code or statute sections, as well as the      •Sign off by typing .SO or by clicking the
United States Code and the U.S. Code of             Sign-Off button on the toolbar. This will
Federal Regulations. To use the LEXSTAT             initiate downloading of the documents you
feature, type lexstat followed by the citation or   have selected. If you quit the Lexis software
select LEXSTAT from the toolbar or pull-            without signing off your download will be
down menu and type the citation in the space        deferred.
provided; e.g. lexstat 11 uscs 101 - will pull up   •When storing to disk the default filename is
section 101 of Title 11 of the United States        document.dsk; the default directory is
Code.                                               C:\LEX28\DCM\.

3) Download                                         Logoff
Documents may be downloaded to disk, re-            To log-off Lexis type .SO or select the
trieved into a word processing package and then     Sign-Off button then exit the Lexis software
printed.                                            by choosing Exit or Quit from the File

 LawLink Volume 2, Number 7                                                           4

To top