Site Search | Site Index

Site Search | Site Index

Law Library News for May 10, 1999

Linda Kawaguchi, editor

Law Library News Archive


Getting Results on LegalTrac

by Marc Lampson, Law Librarianship Intern

Last week we established that it is always better to find a law review article that has done much of the research for you, rather than starting each project from scratch. I then discussed how to find law review articles on LegalTrac, the legal periodical index on the new web-based library catalog, Marian. Last week we reviewed relevance searching, keyword searching, and subject searching. This week I�ll briefly discuss the final search strategy, advanced searching, and how the new system displays your results.

The "advanced searching" strategy is probably the most familiar of the four strategies on LegalTrac. It is essentially Boolean searching that you can perform in different fields or indexes. There are drop down menu boxes where you can choose from author, title, subject, keyword, date, journal name, abstract, etc. The online help documentation from LegalTrac tells us that "Advanced Search presents you with a framework for building as simple or as complex a search expression as you want. You can search for as many as three terms (consisting of one or more words) from as many as three different indexes, and you can link the search terms with any of three logical operators." Thus, advanced searching is helpful if you know little pieces of information about a document � or you are interested in a subject but are not sure how it is indexed. You should be relatively comfortable with the search protocols if you have done any Westlaw or Lexis or other Boolean searching.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new LegalTrac is how it displays your search results and what you can do with those results. The results screen will first list brief citations to material matching your search request, displayed from newest to oldest or, in relevance searching, starting with the "most relevant." It is a typical citation list with title, the author or authors, the publication, volume, issue, and page number. But things get better after that.

Below the citation you can click on the hypertext word "View" to get more information about that article. Sometimes it�s just an extended citation, sometimes an abstract, and once in a while, the full text of the article. Below that information, there will often be a list of "other articles linked to these subjects" that are hyperlinked so you can explore in related directions.

To the left of the citation is a check box that allows you to mark the articles that you are interested in. If you click on ""View mark list" on the navigation bar, it will display the citations that you�ve marked. Then you have a couple of choices � you can email the citation list to yourself or someone else, you can print that screen with brief citations, or you can click on the hypertext link "Reformat marked articles for printing from your browser", which displays extended citations without any other garbage on the page and print that.

LegalTrac is a great new tool and as I mentioned last week, it will undoubtedly be refined as we go along. Happy Exploring.