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October 2011

Can I still use terms and connectors?

WestlawNext recognizes your Terms and Connectors query If you graduated from law school more than two years ago, you likely used Boolean terms and connectors for your online research. Then along came WestlawNext, where you could type a phrase using plain language and retrieve relevant material.

But even when Boolean searching is the logical choice for a research task, you can still use WestlawNext, while making use of WestlawNext time-saving features. Let's take a closer look:

Automatic Detection
Boolean syntax is automatically detected when you use the WestlawNext search box to run a terms and connectors query, i.e., a query containing a field restrictor, proximity connector (+s or /p), or expander (!, #, %, or *). As a result, WestlawNext runs such a search as a Boolean terms and connectors query.

Advanced Search Command
In certain instances, WestlawNext may treat a very simple Boolean query, e.g., a phrase in quotes or two words connected with an AND or OR operator, as though it were a descriptive terms search. To force WestlawNext to run such a query exactly as you've written it, use the Advanced Search command (type either adv: [your query] or advanced: [your query]). For example, type adv: discrimination and back-pay. You still enjoy the benefit of relevance ranking and, when applicable, a link to any additional WestSearch results that may be relevant.

Advanced Search Templates
Advanced Search templates make it easy to build precise Boolean queries on WestlawNext. For example, these templates contain text boxes for searching designated segments of a document known as fields. Each template lists the document fields available for the type of content you are searching. An Advanced Search template typically contains a link to a PDF guide to help you identify the portions of the document you may want to search.

To access an Advanced Search template, browse to the available content pages by clicking links on the All Content tab and on the subsequent pages that are displayed. When the content page you want is displayed, click advanced at the top of the page.

Relevance Ranking
When you run a Boolean search on WestlawNext, you can enjoy benefits you won't find elsewhere. For example, WestlawNext ranks the results of such searches by relevance. In addition, the WestSearch search engine—which leverages the West Key Number System®, KeyCite® citation networks, document linking, and aggregate user behavior—may determine there are additional relevant documents that do not meet your search criteria. In those instances, a link to additional results is provided.

Locate Terms and Phrases within a Document
No matter how you retrieved the document you are viewing, you can use Boolean terms and connectors to search the document for a particular term, a combination of terms, or terms in proximity to each other. Simply click the magnifying glass icon located in the document toolbar, type your term in the text box that is displayed, and click Search. Every instance of your query terms is marked with green highlighting in the document's text.

In addition, you can use the filters to narrow a WestlawNext search result—whether you had searched using plain language or Boolean terms and connectors. You can narrow by any number of filters available for your result, which may include date, document type, jurisdiction, statute title, party, and others.

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