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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

Different Ways to Search Secondary Sources

There are a lot of DIFFERENT WAYS to search for secondary source information on a sophisticated search system such as Westlaw. Oftentimes, students like to just search everything on Westlaw at once using a natural language (Googly) search. That is a great method, but if you don’t find what you are looking for in a reasonable amount of time, you need to be familiar with different methods.

Searching Everything at Once

Sometimes you feel like searching all Westlaw databases at once, and then use the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow your documents by jurisdiction, type, date, etc.

SEARCHING EVERYTHING AT ONCE EXAMPLE

From the initial Westlaw screen, you could run a natural language (Googly) search to find documents about Arizona witness identification statements.

Searching an Individual Database

Sometimes you want to search only one individual database.

INDIVIDUAL DATABASE EXAMPLE

You are researching the Arizona law on witness identification statements. You have heard that the Arizona Trial Handbook is a useful source for this information.

You decide to run a natural language (Googly) search to find documents about witness identification statements in the Arizona Trial Handbook--Arizona Practice Series database.

Searching a Group Database

Sometimes you don't have an individual database in mind, so you might decide to search a group database to search a variety of individual databases all at once.

GROUP DATABASE EXAMPLE

Secondary Sources - Arizona group database contains all Arizona secondary source databases as well as some non-jurisdictional secondary source databases.

You could run a natural language (Googly) search to find documents about witness identification statements.