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How do I know where to start with LexisNexis® ?
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The following provides answers to some questions you may encounter when using the LexisNexis® product.

How do I know when to use LexisNexis® ?
How do I choose between Easy Search™, Power Search, and content-specific search forms?
How do I choose between Easy Search™, Power Search, and content-specific search forms?
How do I choose between Terms and Connectors vs. Natural Language searching?
How do I know what content I'm searching?
How do I learn about advanced search features?
How do I know when to use LexisNexis® ?

LexisNexis® is an outstanding service for researching news, business, and legal topics. It contains more than 6,000 sources from all over the world, drawn from print, broadcast, and online media. The deep backfile lets you find contemporary accounts of events that took place decades ago. Topical indexing and powerful search features help you find exactly the information you need. LexisNexis® legal materials and Shepardi's™ Citations are recognized as the standard for legal research and are required topics in law schools throughout the U.S.

LexisNexis should not be your only source when you are doing research in science or medicine, or when you need to find peer-reviewed journal articles other than from law reviews. Some of these types of materials are included in LexisNexis , but they are not the main strengths of the service, which include:

News, current events, and commentary

  • Newspapers and new magazines, including major publications from the U.S. and around the world and local publications from all 50 states
  • TV and radio broadcast transcripts
  • Wire services
  • Blogs and web-based publications
  • Subject indexing to take you right to editorials, critical reviews, science, business, sports and other news categories

Business

  • Business news and analysis publications
  • Industry and market news for sectors ranging from petroleum extraction to education
  • Company information, including SEC filings and company profiles
  • Country profiles and business conditions

Legal

  • Law reviews and journals

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How do I choose between Easy Search™, Power Search, and content-specific search forms?

Use the Easy Search™ form if you just need a quick answer to a simple query or you're not familiar with advanced searching methods or you're not sure which sources to use. Enter any terms or phrases, with or without connectors, and Easy Search will determine the best searching method (terms and connectors or natural language) based on what you entered.

Use the Power Search form when you need broad flexibility not available on other search forms. You may browse and select specific sources which might not be available on other forms, search sections within a document, find terms and companies within the LexisNexis® SmartIndexing Technology™ feature (Index Terms), choose between natural language and terms and connectors searching, etc. It is also helpful when you have a general query, are searching in an unfamiliar area, or are searching across multiple content types.

Use content-specific search forms (one of the subtabs or the searches listed on the left on those subtabs) if you have a specific topic or category of searching in mind, such as Law Reviews.

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How do I choose between Terms and Connectors vs. Natural Language searching?

What is terms and connectors (or Boolean) searching? Boolean searching is named after George Boole, a British mathematician (1815-1864), who developed logical ways to construct queries using true-false connectors. Boolean searching has become the conventional method for most computerized searching. The LexisNexis® research services use Boolean search logic to develop queries that include the terms and phrases that reflect ideas essential to your research, and the optional terms and connectors that let you search for term variations and link your search terms and phrases. Using other options, such as date limitations, wildcard characters, and document section searching, can help shape your search results. The LexisNexis service searches for documents containing the specific terms and combinations of terms in your search request. Every term (or form of the term) in your search request must appear in the document for that document to be included in your search results.

Terms and Connectors searching is not available on every search form. It is available on the Power Search form, and on other forms where the Additional Terms field appears. A typical search with terms and connectors might look like this:

bankrupt! W/25 discharg! AND (student OR college OR education W/5 loan)

What is Natural Language searching? Natural language searches let you enter a search in plain English, without having to use any special terms or connectors. The natural language feature's document relevance ranking gives you quick access to the most pertinent documents in your search results. A typical search with natural language might look like this:

Under what circumstances can biological parents regain custody of adopted children after an adoption?

When should I use these different types of searching?

  • Use Terms and Connectors searching to retrieve the following types of information:

    • Comprehensive information about an issue or topic, or a person or company

    • Every word or its alternative that appears in each document

    • Specific relationships between your search words

    • Document section-specific searches

  • Use Natural Language for the following search tasks:

    • Researching conceptual issues rather than highly specific topics

    • Researching complex issues when you don't know what words to use

    • Obtaining help in writing a search description, including automatic phrase identification and access to an online thesaurus

    • Supplementing a Terms and Connectors search to ensure thorough results

See Search Connectors and Commands or click the "View Connectors" link on the search form for more information.

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How do I know what content I'm searching?

Use the Source Information icon (Source Information Icon) next to the Source name to view the list of document sections for this source. The source information page for group sources does not contain a list of document sections.

See Using the Source Directory for more information.

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How do I learn about advanced search features?

A large amount of information is available within the LexisNexis® help system to assist you with learning about some of the more advanced search features. You can use the help system by clicking the Help link in the upper-right portion of any screen or by clicking a Help link on any form. Then look through the Index or the Contents frame on the left to find more information.

In addition, several tutorials are available to help you with specific features within LexisNexis . Take the time to view the tutorials to learn more.

Example

The following provides an example of the evolution of constructing a search and shows the power of advanced search techniques.

Say you want to find contemporary newspaper articles about how Russia reacted to Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense program.

The first strategy we could try might be:

Enter a natural language search for "Star Wars"

This search gives you thousands of hits, mostly about Luke Skywalker. That's not what we want.

Next, you might try:

Enter a natural language search for "Reagan Star Wars Russia"

This search gives you thousands of hits, but it won't find anything that does not mention Reagan by name or use the Star Wars nickname. It won't catch articles that refer to the Soviet Union, and it also finds articles from long after the events.

So, let's add a date restriction and see what that does:

Enter a natural language search for "Reagan Star Wars Russia", and choose to restrict date to 1980-90

This search gets us closer, but it's still a lot of documents to review. Pick an article that is a good example of what you're looking for and skim through it. You will notice that index terms appear at the bottom. Let's add an index term to the search.

How about using Terms and Connectors searching? Let's try this:

Enter a terms and connectors search using "star wars and Reagan and Russia", plus the index term MISSILE SYSTEMS, with date restriction to 1980-90.

This still misses documents that don't name Reagan or Russia, but it's closer.

Finally, we combine full text searching and index terms using the Boolean connectors "and" and "or" to come up with a search that focuses on a very specific concept but doesn't miss documents because they used different words. The index term "Russia" will catch documents that refer to Russia and the Soviet Union by whatever name. The resulting search looks like this:

Enter a terms and connectors search using "Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI OR Star Wars", plus index terms using "Major Terms Only" restriction for terms MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEMS and RUSSIA and UNITED STATES and INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, with date restriction to 1980-90.

This yields a manageable number of documents that are most closely tied to what we wanted to know.

For more information about the LexisNexis® SmartIndexing Technology™ feature, see The LexisNexis® SmartIndexing Technology™ feature (Index Terms).

For more information about terms and connectors, see Search Connectors and Commands.

For more information about document section searching, see Document Section Searching.

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