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One of the common objections I hear when training clients on Lexis Advance is that they cannot narrow down searches. Once I dig a little deeper with them, I typically find that these are the same users that are only using the front end filters and natural language. While these filters are certainly useful, especially if you are searching a very specific jurisdiction or practice area, my expert advice is to make the most of the post-search filters and a little bit of terms and connectors language instead. In other words, start with the big haystack and then get to the needle using the back-end filters.
The two best tips I have to help narrow down your search are to use post search filters are to categorize your search results and to include a few terms and connectors.
Tip #1: Categorize Your Post-Search Results
As an example, say you’ve submitted your search request and you are reviewing your results. In the Category section of the Narrow By pane, select the category you want to restrict your search to – for example, Municipal Codes. Now you will only have to review hits that are relevant to your query and not the entire results set.
You can select more than one category by choosing Select Multiple option. You can also deselect those categories to get back to the original set of results.
There is no limit to the number of filters that can be used or combined across filter types and for those that you are going to use on a regular basis, you can create a favorite in one click so it can be accessed quickly and easily.
Tip #2: Use a Few Terms & Connectors
Terms and search connectors help narrow a search by defining relationships between your search terms and they are no longer as intimidating to use. Two examples are using quotation marks and using the w/n connector.
Lexis Advance automatically interprets many common legal phrases, as phrases, rather than as individual search terms; however, if you want to be sure a phrase you are searching for is interpreted as a phrase, either enclose it in quotation marks or use a few of my favorite connectors to help narrow your results (i.e. “social media”).
The w/n connector can help find documents in which the first word appears within "n" words of the second one. As an example, the following search – bite w/3 dog – finds documents where the word “bite” occurs within 3 word of “dog.” When choosing the value of n, these guidelines may prove useful:
A helpful tip: Although, you may choose any number for n, I try to keep my number less than 100. Choosing a number greater than 100 is likely to retrieve documents in which your search terms are used in unrelated contexts.
Keep in mind, different tasks call for different methods of conducting research. Because of this, Lexis Advance offers various ways to search making it flexible, intuitive and easy to use. For additional resources about using Lexis Advance® filters, check out the following LexTalk posts.
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