Search smart presentation


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Brown Bag Presentation given for Attorneys, Paralegals, Secretary's and other Admin staff at the Law Firm I am a Librarian at.

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  • Analyze your topic or information need & Search with peripheral vision Choose the Right Search Engine or Search tool for the information you need to retrieve UC Berkeley has a great guide to web searching which includes a worksheet to use in analyzing your topic. I don’t spend go into this much depth for all searches, but it’s a useful way to “think before you leap” and to track what you have already tried – something I definitely do. I posted a copy of it on the library’s One Source page.
  • When should you choose a general Search Engine? 1. When you have unique key words or combinations of key words 2. Broad searches when you are not sure where to start. You are fishing: and are not sure which site will contain the information you are looking for. 3. When you need quick, general information – think “ready reference” not in depth research. 4. You are looking for a particular website or document 5. When you think the information might be out there for Free – before you use a fee based research database. Great one page comparisons of these search engines at Search Engine showdown:
  • Here are the four major players Well, maybe the main one and 3 to also try. Bing used to be MSN Live Search and claims to have retooled their search algorhythm to deliver more relevant results on the first pages.
  • All the experts say to use more than one search engine to get the most comprehensive results. Think of it as getting a “second opinion”. I’ll confess that I usually don’t and mostly use Google, but it’s still a good idea to do so if you have time. Or try out one of these meta search sites which search more than one engine at a time. Clusty is worth checking out because it clusters your results. Sort of like putting them in folders by categories. This makes it easier to navigate the results or segregate the relevant results. Clusty does not search the major search engines such as Google though. Dogpile covers includes the four major search engines and has cute graphics too. Problems with Meta sites: These multiple search engines are a commendable effort; however, the problems still outweigh their benefits. All have significant limitations as a comprehensive search tool. They are subject to time outs, when search processing takes too long. Since most only retrieve the top 10-50 hits from each search engine, the total number of hits retrieved may be considerably less than found by doing a direct search on one of the search engines. Advanced search features on individual search engines are not usually available. Phrase and Boolean searching may not be properly processed or available. Often they exclude one of the major databases such as Google or Ask.
  • A great way to limit the number of results and to have the most relevant ones appear near the top is to use a specialized search engine. They have built an index that include only certain types of websites or websites with a certain focus or particular type of information, such as Blogs News Images Government Information Law related information Depending on what you are looking for, using one of these search engines may be the best strategy.
  • Google of course has their main web search engine. But they also have various specialized search engines If you click on More at the top of the page this drop down box will appear and you choose from there whole range of searches and additional features. I’ve highlighted some I use regularly: Images, Videos, News and Blogs
  • Google videos searches videos from You Tube and other sites. Although this isn’t a law related question I used this search to find specifically a video that would show my daughter and I how to sew the ribbons on her pointe shoes. We already had a written handout, but I wanted to be able to visualize what it would look like. My going straight to Google Images I eliminated the step of paging through results looking just for the videos.
  • If you forget to go to the Video search in Google you can always limit your search in the main Google search interface. Here’s the same search in the basic Google search engine. Click on Show Options Notice that this is NOT the default (in fact I just learned about this feature while preparing this presentation)
  • This brings up the list you see in the left hand sidebar Then click on Videos
  • Now the results list shows only Videos And, additionally, there are more choices for limiting your search in the left hand sidebar. This is really an Advanced Search Strategy and I will be showing you more of these later on.
  • If you are looking for blog posts you can of course use Google Blogs search. This searches all blogs from around the world that have an RSS feed. Justia Blog Search ( is a searchable directory of legal blog postings, continually updated. Because the search engine is only looking at legal blogs – your results will automatically be more relevant if you are looking for law related information. Blogs are a great place to look for what other law professionals are saying about particular topics. Comments for discussion topics
  • One last example of a specialized search engine. If you the government produces the information you are looking for (statistics, legislative, cases etc…) then use USASearch .gov. This indexes federal, state and local government websites (.gov, .mil and others)
  • Note the Agency tab on the search results screen – it shows which websites will likely have the most information on your topic. Here I searched for “unemployment statistics” and it shows that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is most likely to have this information. I can then go to that agency’s website to explore more deeply.
  • It’s important to note that only the first part of longer documents and websites is indexed And that each search engine has a slightly different method of ranking their results.
  • Also not all web pages are able to be crawled and are not included in the Search Engines index The content in sites requiring a log in CGI output such as data requested by a form Intranets; pages not linked from anywhere else Sites that use a robots.txt file to keep files and/or directories off limits Non-Web resources 14 minutes to this point.
  • My second tip is a key to efficient searching Using these advanced search techniques will improve your search results
  • While not actually a search technique checking your settings can aid in search efficiency
  • There are several options here such as limiting your results to pages in a particular language. I have checked the Results Window box because I find it much easier to navigate my list of hits by having the pages open in a separate window from the list itself. This is not the default so I have to go in and check it – usually just the first I use Google on my machine. You can also choose how much filtering you would like and how many results should display on each page.
  • While you are on the Search Setting page you can also get to much more information of what the settings mean And get additional Search Help Just click on Preferences Help
  • It’s worth taking a few minutes to read through both the Basic Search Help page and the More Search Help page. A little time spent in the beginning can save a lot of time later.
  • One of my favorite search techniques is to use a Phrase search By enclosing your phrase in quotation marks the search engine will look for those words as a phrase. They must appear together and in that order in the results. To find the website for Barrington Fitness – the name of a business – rather than just Barrington AND Fitness – I have used a phrase search. By doing so the website I am looking for appears at the top of my results list rather than at the bottom of the page. Be careful to not exclude results you might want. For example of you search for “Alexander Bell” you will not get results for Alexander G. Bell.
  • Another hidden tool is Search Within Results To find this you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of your results page Where you will see the search box with your original search If you click below this on Search within results you can do an additional search of only your search results – just like Focus in Lexis. In this case I searched for my name Elizabeth Holmes, but I don’t see the one I am looking for (me) so I want to refine my search.
  • When I click on Search within Results this screen comes up. I am looking for the Librarian Elizabeth Holmes so I decide to search for the keyword librarian within my original search results
  • Notice how now all my top hits for Elizabeth Holmes AND librarian . Most of them are me. I could do an additional Search within results to further refine this if I want. Maybe Law or my middle initial G or middle name Geesey
  • Search exactly as is (+) Google employs synonyms automatically, so that it finds pages that mention, for example, childcare for the query [ child care ] (with a space), or California history for the query [ ca history ]. But sometimes Google helps out a little too much and gives you a synonym when you don't really want it. By attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don't add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing.
  • Advanced Search is a very useful tool, particularly if you are not getting the results you want from a simple search. Many search engines, including some of the ones I mentioned earlier have this feature. It is often small and hard to find though. On Google to get to Advanced Search click on the Advanced Search link I have highlighted above.
  • The Advanced Search page gives you many tools to use in limiting or refining your search – all in one place. You can do the same things for the most part, using standard search, but using theis Advanced Search interface you don’t have to remember the specific commands and search operators. There are several I would like to particularly point out. File type: Using the drop down menu you can restrict your results to a certain file type such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF. For example if you know that someone has posted their presentation slides on the web in powerpoint form you can limit your search to this format only Search within a site or domain: In this box you can specify part of a web address such as .edu or .gov or .org. I might want to do this if I am looking for something posted on the website of an academic institution, or a government agency. You can also type in a longer web address and use Google to search in that web site only. Where your keywords show up: Such as in the title , the text, the URL (web address) or in links to the page. Using this tool can narrow down your results and make your search more precise. Just remember that you might be eliminating possibilities of the site doesn’t have your words in it’s title or URL.
  • Fill in the blanks (*) The * , or wildcard, is a little-known feature that can be very powerful. If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches. For example, the search [ Google * ] will give you results about many of Google's products (go to next page and next page -- we have many products). The query [ Obama voted * on the * bill ] will give you stories about different votes on different bills. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
  • Everyone can publish on the internet so it is essential for researchers to have a critical eye Providers of information can be companies, educational institutions, government agencies, communities or individuals. Information on the Internet is not reviewed, “filtered”, edited or selected – it’s just there. {Maybe use examples from Karen Quinn in her CLE paper} or the tips from a research librarian Cornell University Library has a good post on this topic at:
  • Before there were powerful search engines like Google there were Directories. Yahoo began life as a Directory These can still be valuable resources
  • They are built by human selection rather than by computers or robot programs Organized into subject categories – classification by subject May be small and specialized or large and encompassing, but are usually smaller than most search engines – this can be a good thing. Leading to more precise results. Often carefully evaluated and annotated – but not always. Usually means that the sources are more reliable and accurate.
  • The LII Mission Statement: The mission of Librarians' Internet Index is to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected websites, serving California, the nation, and the world.
  • Bookmark These Essential Go To Sites or go to the library OneSource page for links to them. These are sometimes called Portal Sites
  • Good starting places for many types of information, both primary and secondary. Cohesive organization – uniformity and consistency from page to page – allowing user to develop understanding of how to locate information using the portal In many if not all of these portals the information and links included have been vetted or selected by editors, law professionals or librarians This leads to more reliable information sources Let’s look at just a few of these
  • This non-profit institution at Cornell Law School is an excellent starting point for finding U.S. laws and legal resources. You can browse information by topic or search by keyword. Particular strengths include access to the U.S. Code, the U.S. Constitution, the Code of Federal Regulations, and decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. including commentary and notes on provisions of individual sections from these databases. Links are also provided on areas of law (copyright law, for example) from their "Law About . . ." pages. Again I can either browse the by subject or search the database
  • This is one of my go to sites when I am starting research or trying to locate a website – particularly if I am not familiar with the subject. It covers many different legal subjects and provides excellent guidance to the research resouces in those subject areas Both free websites, pay databases such as Lexis and Westlaw, and print materials too. Andrew Zimmerman is a law librarian and compiles and updates these guides (he is not affiliated with Lexis) – other law Librarians have also contributed sections of the guide.
  • Provides access to free case law, codes, regulations, legal articles, and legal blog databases Includes a legal research and law practice series in areas such as injury law, criminal law, immigration law, and others [Founded by Tim Stanley, who began and developed FindLaw and subsequently sold it to Thomson-West]
  • PublicLegal is a product of the Internet Legal Research Group (ILRG) . It’s a categorized index of more than 4000 select web sites in 238 nations, islands, and territories , as well as thousands of locally stored web pages, legal forms, and downloadable files established in 1995 to serve as a comprehensive resource of the information available on the Internet concerning law and the legal profession, with an emphasis on the United States of America . Designed for everyone, lay persons and legal scholars alike, it is quality controlled to include only the most substantive legal resources online. I haven’t used this one much but it is on the recommended lists of many law librarians and legal researchers.
  • Provides access to the Global Legal Information Network A public database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. These GLIN members contribute the full texts of their published documents to the database in their original languages. Each document is accompanied by a summary in English and, in many cases in additional languages, plus subject terms selected from the multilingual index to GLIN. All summaries are available to the public, and public access to full texts is also available for most jurisdictions. And to the Guide to Online Law Annotated guide to online sources of legal information on government and law by U.S. state, country, or region As well as other sources
  • is the premier free, independent, one person produced Web journal dedicated to providing legal, library, IT/IS, marketing and administrative professionals with the most up-to-date information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues, applications, resources and tools It’s been around for 12 years and personally have used it frequently to find reputable websites for legal research. They also publish articles on key topics in legal research and technology. Notice the links across the top to their section on Court Rules Forms and Dockets , And to the BeSpacific Blog which reviews (and finds) websites of current interest I get a daily e-mail from this blog which highlights websites of the day. They are very timely and in fact I used one while I was preparing for this Brown Bag.
  • Here’s a sample “article” from LLRX. I could have done a keyword search to find it, but in this case I used the Article Archive and then browsed by subject.
  • Feel free to ask me for help in locating resources and to find out what we have access to. You can also check The Library Intranet Site. I have law library colleagues in Rhode Island and elsewhere who are also terrific sources of information. Through the Providence Public Library and through the Massachusetts Trial Court Libraries and of course the RI Law Library we have access to a wealth of information in print and in online databases.
  • Add slide of or link to One Source Library Website – or go there live.
  • Don’t forget resources we subscribe to at PSH that are non-billable to your clients
  • LoisLaw (Federal and state case law) HeinOnline (access to law reviews and other print legal resources they have scanned in pdf form) BNA Mass/Bankruptcy Interface from Lexis (may add RI) Check out their tutorials and help pages too
  • LoisLaw HeinOnline BNA Mass/Bankruptcy Interface from Lexis (may add RI) Check out their tutorials and help pages too
  • I will show you the first two, but feel free to ask me for more info on the others, including the 1-800 for the Reference Attorneys
  • Many resources on Lexis include their Table of Contents which is browseable and searchable. Here I am in the table of contents for the treatise Powell on Real Property The default is to search the full text of the source documents, but you can change that to search only the Table of Contents – useful if you are looking for a particular section by title. To browse the Table of Contents – click on the small and slightly hidden link under the search box. This will take you to the TOC and you can then expand it by clicking on the plus signs. When you get down to the level of blue hyberlinks that’s as far as you can go and if you click on these links then the source document will open and we will be charged a “Get a Document” fee – this is cheaper than a search fee – so that’s a good thing!
  • Once you are in the treatise or source document you can turn on Book Browse and look at each section for just the cost of the Get a Document Fee Turning this on is also a bit hidden. I’ve circled it above.
  • So while there is a lot of reliable, accurate legal information available for free on the Internet it is still sometimes/often better to use a source we pay for. Your time is money so if you can get the information you need fast and pay for it – you might end of actually spending less than if you spent more time looking for the Free information. I don’t know where this saying comes from, but I hear law librarians use it a lot.
  • Search smart presentation

    1. 1. Search Smart: Research Tips & Tricks Elizabeth Geesey Holmes, MA., MSLIS Librarian November 5, 2009
    2. 2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT SEARCH ENGINE <ul><li>Tip #1 </li></ul>
    3. 3. When to use a General Search Engine <ul><li>Have unique keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Not sure where to start </li></ul><ul><li>Need broad/ general information </li></ul><ul><li>Looking for a particular website/document </li></ul><ul><li>Think information may be available somewhere for Free </li></ul>
    4. 4. General Search Engines <ul><li>Google </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bing </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yahoo! </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ask </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Meta Search Sites <ul><li>Clusty </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dogpile </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Specialized Search Engines <ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>News </li></ul><ul><li>Images </li></ul><ul><li>Videos </li></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul><ul><li>Law </li></ul>
    7. 7. Google Search Engines
    8. 9. Click on Show Options
    9. 10. This brings up the list you see in the left hand sidebar Then click on Videos
    10. 15. Keep in mind how Search Engines work <ul><li>Create a list of words by “crawling” the web </li></ul><ul><li>Sift through this index of web pages </li></ul><ul><li>Rank results using parameters of the query </li></ul><ul><li>Every search engine does this a bit differently </li></ul>
    11. 16. Know what’s not included <ul><li>Content in sites requiring a log in </li></ul><ul><li>CGI output such as data requested by a form </li></ul><ul><li>Intranets and other pages not linked from anywhere else </li></ul><ul><li>Sites that use technology to keep files and/or directories off limits </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Web resources </li></ul>
    12. 17. USE ADVANCED SEARCH TECHNIQUES <ul><li>Tip #2 </li></ul>
    13. 18. Click on Settings and then on Search Settings A. Check your settings
    14. 20. Click on Preferences Help
    15. 21. It’s worth taking a few minutes to read through both the Basic Search Help page and the More Search Help page. B. Read Search Help
    16. 22. Phrase search for Barrington Fitness C. Use Phrase Searches
    17. 23. Focus you search results with Search within results D. Search within results
    18. 24. Add an additional keyword to refine your results
    19. 25. New focused search and results list
    20. 26. Search exactly as is (+) E. Remember Google automatically searches for synonyms. Use + before a word to search precisely for that word. Search for RI legislation retrieves both Rhode Island and RI
    21. 27. Use Advanced Search F. Use Advanced Search
    22. 28. And Or Phrase Not
    23. 29. Fill in the blanks (*) F. Use the asterisk to substitute for a word The above search retrieves all of these different phrases
    24. 30. Evaluate your source <ul><li>Authority </li></ul><ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul><ul><li>Objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Currency </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of Use </li></ul>
    25. 31. DON’T FORGET DIRECTORIES <ul><li>Tip #3 </li></ul>
    26. 32. What are Directories? <ul><li>Built by human selection </li></ul><ul><li>Organized into subject categories </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller than most search engines </li></ul><ul><li>Often carefully evaluated and annotated </li></ul>
    27. 33. Directories to try out <ul><li>Librarians Internet Index: Websites you can Trust </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yahoo! Directory </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open Directory Search </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    28. 34. You can search the Directory’s listings. Also note they have an Advanced Search Or you can browse by subject categories
    29. 35. The Breadcrumb trail lets you know where you are Results: reputable/go to sites for legal research
    30. 36. USE COMPREHENSIVE RESEARCH SITES <ul><li>Tip #4 </li></ul>
    31. 37. Comprehensive Research Sites <ul><li>Good starting place for both primary and secondary information </li></ul><ul><li>Cohesive organization </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial selection </li></ul><ul><li>Reliable information </li></ul>
    32. 38. Cornell Legal Information Institute
    33. 39. Zimmerman’s Legal Research Guides
    34. 40. Justia
    35. 41. Public Legal
    36. 42. Law Library of Congress
    37. 43. LLRX
    38. 45. ASK A LIBRARIAN <ul><li>Tip #5 </li></ul>
    39. 46. Library sub-site on OneSource
    40. 47. DON’T FORGET NON-BILLABLE DATABASES <ul><li>Tip #6 </li></ul>
    41. 48. Databases not billed to our clients <ul><li>LoisLaw </li></ul><ul><li>HeinOnline (via the Mass Trial Courts Libraries) </li></ul><ul><li>BNA tax and corporate databases </li></ul><ul><li>AllRegs </li></ul><ul><li>Mass/Bankruptcy Lexis Interface </li></ul><ul><li>Check out their tutorials as well. </li></ul>
    42. 49. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF OUR LEXIS CONTRACT <ul><li>Tip #7 </li></ul>
    43. 50. <ul><li>Table of Contents </li></ul><ul><li>Book Browse </li></ul><ul><li>Get a Document </li></ul><ul><li>Related Content </li></ul><ul><li>Reference Attorneys </li></ul>
    44. 51. Click on Browse TOC to go to the Table of Contents
    45. 53. Time is money <ul><li>Pick any two: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accurate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheap </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fast, accurate & expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Slow , accurate & cheap </li></ul><ul><li>Fast, inaccurate & cheap </li></ul>
    46. 54. Thanks for your time!