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Rhode Island Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn Searching Google for Legal Research Presentation December 2013
 

Rhode Island Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn Searching Google for Legal Research Presentation December 2013

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Presentation for the RI Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn in December 2013 on Using Google for Legal Research.

Presentation for the RI Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn in December 2013 on Using Google for Legal Research.

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  • Event DescriptionYou know that there are credible, free legal resources, but how do you get to them? Save timeand frustration by knowing how to get the most out of searching Google for legal research.Discover how to locate and use advanced search features, as well as choose the best keywordsfor your search.What are the key elements that should be advertised?   Save time and frustration by knowing how to get the most out of searching Google for legal researchImprove your searching by choosing the best keywordsSave money by finding legal materials for free on Google ScholarWhat do you think attendees will find most valuable out of all the info you are presenting? How to locate and when to use advanced search featuresHow to refine their search terms to get the best resultsHow to use Google Scholar to  locate legal materials
  • David Segal’s article is about search engine optimization and tricks that can be used by website creators to bring their websites to the top of search results lists. Being aware that this happens and using the search strategies I’ll be showing you today will improve your search results – however, Google searching can still be Intriguing (more of an art than a science.)
  • There are a couple of important things to remember about keyword searching. You may have heard these before, but they’re good to keep in mind as you search.Looks everywhere for your search terms – full text of the whole website.Is “dumb”, or not so much dumb as extremely literal -- (unless we help it)
  • Choosing the best keywords can be difficult. The easiest method of determining effective keywords is by simply reflecting upon your topic and focusing on its main points. Think of terms describing those main points and you have keywords.One way to do this is to define your subject in one sentence and then split this sentence into concepts – discarding words which merely describe the relationships between one concept and another. If you are stuck try doing some background research or reading on your topic to see what keywords are used most frequently.
  • THENThink about SynonymsThink about Broader and Narrower TermsBut make keywords as specific as possible – if the information you are looking for is on a narrow topic then don’t use broader terms.EXAMPLE: The search “Antique lead soldiers" gets more relevant results than "old metal toys".EXAMPLE: if you are looking for information on Dogs then don’t search for the term animals without any other terms. Try the obvious first EXAMPLE:If you're looking for information on Picasso, enter "Picasso" rather than "painters".Use words likely to appear on the site with the information you want. EXAMPLE:"Luxury hotel New York" gets better results than "really nice places to spend the night in New York".)
  • Hint: If you can’t think of any synonyms or are looking for more. Try this basic Google search:synonym: substance abuse (the colon is important)
  • After you have the keywords you can combine them and refine your search for greater relevance in recall (in layman’s language – not more results, but fewer, better results) using the Google specific strategies for putting your search terms in context and building specific search strings which I will discuss in the next section. Would love to find a good example to give for this!!
  • Before you do anything else – ie: search, enter keywords etc.Check you Settings********Help for how to do this at: http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35892Can also go directly to: http://www.google.com/preferences
  • Here’s the Main Google Search page that we all know and “love”.Problem is you can’t do anything from here except get to you account settings and/or do a simple search – you can’t get to your search settings or to advanced search
  • Unfortunately you have to do a search before you can get to the Search Settings to change them.Just do any old searchThis will give you the GEAR icon which brings up a link to Search Settings when you click on it.
  • The most important setting to change is Where results open. The default is for this to be unchecked which means that when you click on a search results you will go to that result in the same browser tab or window and to get back to your search results you will have to hit the back button at least once – if you’ve clicked several times in the website it can be very hard to get back to your search results without recreating the search. If you check this box then your results will open in a new window or tab and you can look at them while still retaining your search results. I can’t stress enough how useful this is!It’s important to know about your Safe Search Filter setting because it can affect search results. I have Safe Search filters turned off because I may want to search a topic that might be filtered, for example for sexualcontent. Thisfilter mainly relies on algorithms that look at many factors, including keywords, links, and images. You can turn it on and also lock it on.Google Instant predictions can also be turned off if you have a slow connection, or you just don’t like it. For those not familiar with this feature – what it does is try to predict what you want to search based on what you are typing in the search box. I leave it on because sometimes I can save myself some typing by selecting one of the predictions. I can mark the setting to only show these predicitions when I have a fast enough computer so my searching won’t slow down.Results per Page: You can change the number of results that display per page – I usually keep mine at the default of 10. To do this you have select Never show Instant Results under Google Instant predictions and then you can move the slider to the number of results you’d like to get per page. Also Note that clicking on Help takes you to more information on all of these settings and what they do.
  • Google Search automatically returns results in the language you choose for Google product text.You can also request results in other languages. If you don’t select any other language you will not receive results if the page is NOT in English.I recently had to change my settings to FRENCH so that my daughter could retrieve webpages in French for a French class assignment. It took as awhile to figure out why we weren’t getting the results we wanted!
  • What you enter or what the computer thinks your location is makes a difference in which search results come up first.
  • For example if I enter my location as Providence, RI and do a search for Bakery then I get results for bakeries in the Providence area first.This is mostly a useful feature, but it can also stop you from getting the results you want. When I changed my location to Baltimore my results showed Baltimore area bakeries first. NOTE: You can also change your location right from the top menu line but first you have to open it by clicking on SEARCH TOOLS to show this second top menu – then click on the down arrow next to your present location – in this example – ProvidenceWe will look at other ways to refine our search using the top menu in just a minuteYour search settings should STICK or stay, once you’ve set them if you are signed in, but they may not if you are not at your “home” computer.
  • You could just type in a string of keywords and hope for the best.To be honest that’s what I do quite a bit of the time.However, it is good to know about Boolean Searching so that you can craft a more precise search when throwing keywords at the problem doesn’t get you the results you are looking for.
  • A system developed by mathematician George Boole during the 19th century that uses a series of connectors to define relationships between objects
  • Google’s default connector is AND – Google automatically adds an AND between the keywords you type into the search box.
  • You can override this default by substituting one of the other Boolean connectors.OR connector returns results that contain one keyword OR the other as well as both keywords. Most often used to search for synonyms, or for combining two concepts.For example if I also wanted trust law as well as probate law I would use the OR connector.Remember to capitalize!
  • NOT excludes a keyword from your results. On Google you don’t use the word NOT, instead you type a – (hyphen/minus sign) before the word. Use to eliminate keywords from your search results.
  • Refers to a search-engine feature that allows for the automatic extension of a particular keyword to search other forms of the word.For example extending the word Constitution to include Constitutions and ConstitutionalOn some more sophisticated search platforms such as Lexis or Westlaw you have to specify that you want other versions of a keyword. Google automatically looks for other versions or stems of your keyword. On Westlaw it is the exclamation point and it’s called the Root ExpanderAs you can see from this example Google also un-stems words.This isn’t so much a Google technique as it is something to be aware of when you are searching – it means you don’t have to think about all possible forms of your keyword and search for all of them.
  • This is one of the things that Google automatically to help you out. It also automatically searches for some synonyms and as we mentioned earlier it searches first for your words together as a phrase before searching for them separately. It’s important to know what Google is doing because you may want to be more precise and search only for the exact words you entered. To do this you can ask Google to search for your words Verbatim – if you turn this on then Google will search for exactly the words you entered – no synonyms, no word-stems, no alternate spellings etc…. Here’s how to “turn this on”
  • Google does not offer true proximity searching that you might be familiar with from Lexis or Westlaw – where you can specify that your keyword appear a within a certain number of words from each other, or within the same sentence. However, you can include an asterisk in place of one (or more than one) word as a wildcard. This can be another good way to search for people who may or may not be using their middle name or initial. However, Google often substitutes two words for the asterisk so results for names may include false hits.
  • This wildcard feature can be very useful for fill in the blank type phrase searching such as: Search: * clerked for Justice Souter orSearch: velcro was invented by *
  • Rather than searching for individual keywords, you can search for exact phrasesYou can also use it to avoid this Google word-stemming “feature” – or assuming you have spelled it wrong and suggested an alternate word -- without having to limit your results to VerbatimTo do this put your phrase or word in quotation marks.You can also combine with other search operators.I like to use the * for proximity searching for names.Phrase searching can also be useful if you are looking for a term of art or a specific product name. This search gives you results that contain the words you’ve searching in that exact order.I used phrase searching quotation marks to force google to search only for the word or name BRAKS. Without the quotes Google was automatically correcting my spelling to BREAKS. I didn’t put ED in quotation marks because I wanted Google to look for alternatives such as EDWARD.
  • Knowing how to navigate your search results effectively increases your productivity as well
  • I am looking for information on The Institute for International Sport. I entered the simple search: Institute for International Sport. Here are my first results. Notice the Menu Bar across the top under the search boxYou can narrow your search results – thus bringing more relevant results up to the first several pages – by using the tools in this menuWhat if I really just want News articles? The search results default to EVERYTHING on the Web as you can see in red at the top. To do this I click on the word NEWS in the top menu which limits my results to only News articles. [REMEMBER to click on the MORE or on the MORE SEARCH TOOLS to see even more options.]
  • If I click on Search Tools an additional top menu level with open and I can further limit my search with options tailored to News results. I can no further refine my search by searching just blogs. I canlimited by TIME and change the SORT to by date if I like The current “settings” have a checkm ark next to them, but I can change them by clicking on the other options These tools used to be easier to find and were located on the side and all were open at one time. Now you have to click on each drop down arrow separately to bring up the various options.
  • The options in this second top menu are different depending on what format or area you have limited your search too. For example if I limit my search by IMAGES I get options relevant to ImagesI can narrow by result size, color, type, time and more as well by clicking on More tools. Note: the related search ideas are represented visually at the top of the search results: School Chair, Clipart chairs, Wooden Chairs etc…
  • Here I have limited my search COLOR blue to get only blue chairs.And I’ve limited my Image TYPE to Clip Art.
  • A few other things of note: 1.) ADS: sometimes these are relevant, but it’s good to recognize why they are appearing in your search results. Google used to have them VERY lightly highlighted in yellow – now they have this yellow AD icon which is easier to spot.
  • 2.) Often if you scroll to the bottom of the page there are useful links. Here we have links to searches related to chair – these may be more specific and more targeted to what you are actually looking for. If you click on the link it will run that searchAlso note at the very bottom a link to HELP which takes you to useful Help pages of search tips and tricks.
  • I confess that Iusually start with a basic search. I just type in some keywords and see what I get. If I am not seeing the results I want then I go back and either, brainstorm better keywords, narrow my results, or I go back and try a more precise search using Boolean search operators
  • The other time I use Basic search is for simple fact look-ups. For example: Population Ecuador, or President Poland.Or Capitol of Massachusetts
  • Here’s are my search results for the Capital of Massachusetts. On the first screen you can find the answer, as well as links to more information and to sources for that answer – as well as a map and basic facts on the left
  • You can also use a Basic search as a Calculatorsqrt 787 * 2 +4
  • Oras a dictionary to define a word or phraseEnter the search Define: res ipsaloquiturOr to check spelling of a word. Just type in the word the way you think it’s spelled an very often Google will auto correct it and show you the actual spelling in the drop down list of recommended searches. I never seem to know how to spell suggestion!
  • This search page offers a collection of form based search options that allow you to easily create a more focused and sophisticated search without remember the Boolean operators or Google specific commands I covered in the Basic search sectionUnfortunately Google has Advanced Search hidden, but here’s how to get to it.FIRST DO A BASIC SEARCH for anything.1.) At top right hand side of page. Click on the GEAR icon to bring up the drop down box than select ADVANCED SEARCH
  • Boolean Searching Using the Advanced PageDon’t have to remember the specific terms and Boolean connectors and you don’t have to yse them eitherWe can do our earlier search for my classmate Ann Tyler who is not an author using this search page. We don’t want Google to stem the word Ann and also look for Anne so we put it in the exact word or phrase box We also know she is not an author or novel writer so we exclude those words using the NONE OF THESE WORDS box. Google creates the search you see in the top box from what we’ve entered in the Advanced Search boxes – you could also have typed it that way in the search box in Google’s Basic Search. This is a simple example, but more complex searches are easier to do using the Advanced Search boxes since you don’t have to remember the commands or connectors.
  • If you scroll down the page (which you have to do to click on the Advanced Search button to run your search) you will come to this section where you can Narrow your search results by various critera.I’d like to highlight a few of these that I find the most useful.
  • LIMITING RESULTS TO SPECIFIC FILE FORMATS
  • Using the site search filter is great for searching a single domain or domain typeMany websites have their own search built in, but if they don’t then you can use this narrowing option.You can also use it to limit your results to a particular domain type such as .edu or .gov.
  • I often limit to a specific domain type. In this example I am looking for research guides on the law or other legal topics that are on academic library websites, so I used the words: library, research guide, law or legal and combined it with the domain type: .eduIn fact I use this advanced search page feature so much I have memorized the command to do this from the basic search box. It is site:That said – Google’s algorithm gets smarter all the time and when I did this search without limiting it to .edu sites the first results were all from .edu sites and right on target.
  • The advanced search is translated into the regular search box as:Library law OR legal “research guide” site: eduMy results are below and contain links to many research guides from academic law libraries like University of Washington, Cornell, Universtiy of Maryland, Yale, and Georgetown.All the results are from .edu domains
  • This is what the Google Scholar main page looks like. Note that it defaults to searching Articles and Patents. To search Legal documents you will have to either change your settings or check the circle in front of Legal Documents
  • I recommend checking your settings so you can customize the look of your search and results interfacesYou will probably want to change the default so that Google Scholar searches Legal Opinions and Journals, rather than articles.I also recommend clicking the box to open results in a new browser window.Unfortunately you cannot set a default jurisdiction.Then, don’t forget to click on Save Preferences to make these preferences “STICK” for all of your Google Scholar searching.
  • Text from Google Scholar Help page:Currently, Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.Legal opinions in Google Scholar are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed lawyer. Google does not warrant that the information is complete or accurate.
  • I want to do a search for the case Roe v Wade how do I start my searchI type Roe v Wade into the search box and make sure that the Legal Document radio button is checked. You will also see Jurisdiction choices below. You can select one of these now or after you have run your search. If you don’t see the jurisdiction you are looking for then click on Select courts to see more choices. You can also leave this blank and you will search all jurisdictionsWith this search we will retrieve both the opinion Roe v. Wade as well as opinions that cite Roe v. Wade and articles about Roe v. Wade. Google Scholar does not have an Advanced Search page but you can still use some of these features by clicking on the down arrow next to the search box which brings up an Advanced Search Window. I’ll show some ways to refine your searches using advanced search in just a minute
  • Citation searching using the Advanced Search windowThere are no search boxes to search by citation, party name or judge but you can “force” these searches. To search by citation, enter it into the Find articles with the exact phrase box on the Advanced search page.NOTE: You must use the Bluebook citation form. For example: 100 Federal Supplement 1 entered into this box will bring back no results, but a search for 100 F Supp 1 will bring back the exact case and any other late case that has cited to it. (Google ignores punctuation so you don’t need a period after F.You can also search by official and unofficial citations
  • Searching by party nameFor narrower results you can search for the party name in the with the exact phrase box. Be sure to use just the letter v and not vs. or versus, or just leave that out.Then limit where your words occur to “in the title of the article” This search will retrieve the US Supreme Court decision and the Federal Distrcit Court decision, but not articles about the case Roe v Wade.For broader select anywhere for where my words occur – as in the first sample search page I just showed.
  • To force a search by judge’s name first enter the judge’s last name into the search box labeledReturn articles authored byIn the example here I want to search for Judge Vogel in any Rhode Island opinions. This search will retrieve cases in which this judge delivered the opinion, concurred with it, or dissented from it.
  • This is my results page for my search for “articles” “authored” by Vogel. You can see that Google has translated the Advanced search using the command author: You can skip the Advanced search window and just do you search this way as well once you know what the search command is.The results on this page are for all jurisdictions – we can tell this because Legal Documents is highlighted in red on the left. To limit to Rhode Island courts click on Rhode Island Courts in the left hand sidebar. Now you can also limit to a particular court before you do a search – choose the court or courts you want below the main search box. Then click on the drop down arrow to open Advanced Search. Note that you can also further limit your search by Time as well as change the sort order of your results.
  • Here are the search results for our search for Roe v Wade anywhere in the document,searching all jurisdictionsalso the date range anytime, sorted by relevance and including citations. Because the words Case Law in the left sidebar are red we know that our results are all for case law for all jurisdictionsBUT If we want to limit to just Articles then we could click on Articles in the left sidebar – or to limit to just cases of a particular court we could click on Federal courts, Rhode Island courts or Select courts.There is also a link to create and email alert for this search.
  • This is our results list if we limit to Articles. If you have an affiliation with an academic librarian you can add this to the Setting in Google Scholar and the search results will show you where you can obtain these articles if they are not free on the internet – and many of them are not. But at least you will know they exist and can look for them elsewhere. Note because we have include patents and include citations clicked these will be in our results. If we uncheck them they won’t be which will unclutter our results.
  • Here’s how to limit to particular courts before you do a search.Click on Select CourtsThen click in the boxes next to the court or courts you want to search – or click Select All to select all Federal or all State courts. These choices should stick for all future searches until you change them.
  • NOTE if we want to change any of these options just select the dropdown menu to go to the advanced search window to redo the search with these new optionsHere I have changedwhere my words occur to in the title of the article
  • These are our results for the search Roe v Wade only in the title and limited to Case Law (no articles). You can see that we’ve just received the Supreme Court case and the lower court case from Texas. The rest of our results are cases which site Roe v Wade – We get these in our results list because include citations is checked in the left sidebar. Under the first search result – the Supeme Court case Cited by 33321 refers to how many books, cases and articles cited to Roe v WadeClicking on All 5 versions brings you to links for these five versions – including their source – in this case: Google Scholar, Bulkresources.org, and Cornell LII.I will discuss the links to How cited and Related articles in just a few minutesLastly I want to point out how much more precise our search results are than they would be in “regular” Google. We have only 34 results and most if not all are relevant to our search. When I did this search in Regular Google I got 23.5 million hits. The second one was to the case Roe v Wade at the Legal Information Institute at Cornell, but going to the case there does not give us the added tools I will discuss in the next slide.
  • After we click on the first Roe v Wade result we go to this screen in the Read mode (as indicated by the red highlighted Tab at the top left)This is where the full text of the case is displayed. This is the official version so only the official citation is displayed.Each of our keywords are highlighted. You can remove this highlighting before printing if you like by clicking on the X next to Highlighting allintitle: roe v wade in the upper right hand corner.Links to the other cases mentioned in the text are hyperlinks. If you click on these you will go to the full text of that case.Also notice the How Cited tab directly next to the Read tab. If we click on this we go to the following page. (on next slide)
  • The How Cited page is divided into three sections:How this document has been citedCited byRelated DocumentsGoogle does not explain the difference between How this document has been cited and Cited by There seem to be more documents in the Cited By section and the How this document has been cited takes you to the pinpoint pages while Cited By just takes you to the top of the case or journal article that has Cited Roe v Wade.As of March 8, 2012 Google has changed the way they present the citations in the Cited By section.They are now sorting the citing documents by the extent of discussion of the cited case rather than by their prominence.In other words opinions that discuss the cited case in detail are presented before ones that mention the case briefly. The extent of discussion is indicated visually as well – using bars – the more bars the more relevant.The idea is to help legal researchers quickly find the significant citations they are looking for.It’s important to note that this is not the same as shephardizing or using key cite – because it isn’t a way to quickly determine if the case is still good law.Related documents lists related cases and journal articles that might have similar fact patterns (or could be a counter suit, for instance) To view a list of all citations you need to click the all 33321 citing documents link in the Cited by section. (orange arrow)
  • Pros of Google Scholar for Legal ResearchCase citations are hyperlinked to the caseSearch results are fast and accurateRelevancy of search results to search queries are as good, and sometimes better, than those provided by commercial legal research services“How Cited” tab delivers every case in every state and federal appellate court that has cited the case being reviewed, as well as any citations to the case in scholarly articles (providing they are indexed by Google)This is a FAST way to find other cases directly on point with the issue being researched as well as a way to see how other jurisdictions are addressing the issue that makes the case important. You can set up Alerts for your search which will e-mail new results for your search query to you.You can send direct links to the case to someone elseBecause Google Scholar is FREE the links are accessible to all – not just those with a subscription to the legal research service you are using.Oh yes – and it’s FREE
  • Cons of Google Scholar for Legal ResearchSearch results are based on Google’s system for ranking search results, rather than the actual importance of the case. As legal opinions are not typically written for search engine optimization (may want to define this here – or make sure I did with the first quotation) this does not always return the best results first. The SEO value of a case does not necessarily equate to it’s value as legal precedentThere is no way to fully shepardize cases. The How Cited tab will return a list of every case that has cited the case being viewed as well as citations in scholarly articles, but it does not indicate whether or not the case is still good law. A researcher can only make that determination by reading the cases that cite to itGoogle Scholar lacks an index tool for spotting important legal issues. For example Westlaw provides Key Number results which provide an index of the issues involved in the case in a short summary. This allows researcher to quickly determine whether the case is relevant and a link to other cases involving this issue. HOWEVER, some of this can be done by looking at the links in the HOW CITED tab.Statutes and rules of procedure are not hyperlinked and are not included in the search databaseCoverage – database lacks older cases for federal and state courts.
  • MUCH is made of the fact that google is a verb—this is often given as a sign that the search-engine giant has well and truly made it. Page 7 of "The Google Story" by David Vise and Mark Malseed tells us thatTo google means "to search". That the company's name has become a verb in English, German and other languages is testament to its pervasive influence on global culture.Well, sort of, but what Mr Vise means is that "that the company's name has become a widely known and used verb is testament to the company's pervasive influence." Because "Google" was a verb long before its pervasive influence. The evidence?  "The Google Story", p. 43Thanks to all the people who have sent us logos and suggestions. Keep them coming.  Have fun and keep googling. That was Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a note on the new google.com, in 1998.(The logos is from June 21, 2011 celebrating the first day of Summer by Takashi Murakami) 

Rhode Island Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn Searching Google for Legal Research Presentation December 2013 Rhode Island Paralegal Association Lunch and Learn Searching Google for Legal Research Presentation December 2013 Presentation Transcript