Yes, the Words are Important!

Doing some online research and getting no results? Are you using the right words?

When we did research using print sources, the right terms weren’t as essential as they are today. In the print sources you could browse the table of contents and index, review a relevant chapter, and sometimes even open the book to the exact page you need (serendipity – it has happened, honest!).

Doing research with print provides a context; you’re starting with Waddams’ The Law of Contracts, or Brown on Insurance Law in Canada. As you read you discover other relevant terminology and learn more about the area of law. But with online searching you’re sending words into a void with the hope that the results contain the answer you seek.

So how can you avoid wasting time? Begin with the right words. For example, searching for a precedent for a “motion for rectification” instead of an “application for rectification” will return zero results. If you’re not sure of the right words, first do some research in secondary sources such as Perell & Morden’s The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, the C.E.D. (print or through WestlawNext Canada) or books on wills and probate. Secondary sources are your friends!

If your online search still doesn’t pull up relevant results, tweak your search. Instead of using a phrase such as “application for rectification”, try broadening the search and do a proximity search instead: application /5 rectification. Be sure to use the correct connectors for the online source since they aren’t always consistent.

It may seem like a waste of time to begin with some preliminary research to gain context and an understanding of a topic, but in the end it may save you time – because the words are important.

Nobody Knows Everything

What should you do when you have to research a totally unfamiliar area of law? No one knows everything, so it’s a great strategy to look for a reputable source, print or online, that provides an overview or background information to give you a starting point. Continue reading “Nobody Knows Everything”

From 25 to 2500 in 18 years!

Those numbers represent the rapid growth of HeinOnline’s full-text Law Journal Library in less than 20 years. When launched in 2000, this collection held just 25 journals. By 2006 there were 80 titles, and as of January 2018, the total reached 2,500. Continue reading “From 25 to 2500 in 18 years!”