Choose the correct database
Use the database of databases called IDEN
Read the SCOPE NOTES for the database chosen
Formulate a search
Natural Language: Not the best searching method (Relying on a hidden search algorithm allows the system to make assumptions and decisions about your search unknown to you that will change your results.)
Terms and Connectors: The better method (Allows you complete control over the search.)
Phrases MUST be enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. “limited liability”)
The system will automatically create plurals (Besides the normal s and es plurals, the system will also automatically search for some irregular plurals (e.g. mouse - mice, woman - women, etc.).
Use universal expanders (e.g. ! or *) (! (exclamation point) is the unlimited number of characters expander; * (asterisk) is the one character expander)
Be mindful of possible prefixes & suffixes when using expanders (auto! will return auto and automobile, but also automatic and automation.)
Choose the correct terms
Use terms-of-art, when relevant, as part of your search to help limit the use of common terms. (e.g. “fiduciary duty”, “strict liability”)
Avoid commonly occurring terms, unless using Segments. (e.g. corporation, tort, legal, “law suit”, liability, etc.)
Use Field limitations All documents are divided into parts called Fields. Limiting your search to just a single Field can dramatically reduce the number of spurious returns. Check the number and types of Fields available before searching a database. Field limitations formatting: Field abbreviation, no space, and then the search terms within parentheses (e.g. ti(smith & brown)). NJ cases use the following Fields (COURT, SYNOPSIS, DIGEST, HOLDING, TOPIC, HEADNOTE, JUDGE, ATTORNEY, OPINIONS, CONCURRING, DISSENTING, PRELIM, DOCKET-NUMBER, TITLE, CITATION ) Date limitations (Acceptable formats include da(m/d/yyyy) and date(mm/dd/yyyy) (there is no need for a zero before single digit months or days) Title Field for the parties names Use the & (ampersand) connector between the parties names (Format ti(roe & wade) NOT ti(roe v. wade) ) Use the judge and attorney Field limitations (Format ju(sabatino) and at(belli) If the last name is a common one, add the first name at(melvin +2 belli) ) Use Synopsis and/or Headnote limitations when you are forced to employ commonly occurring terms. Searching only the Synopsis and/or Headnote Fields will greatly reduce the number of incorrect hits. NOTE: The very newest, slip cases will not contain the Synopsis and/or Headnote Fields.