What is LexisNexis all about anyway?

You blog readers may recall that we did a post a few months back about locating newspaper content (click here for a refresher) in LexisNexis and other resources.  However, it occurred to your friendly Fielding librarian that perhaps you may be curious to know what else LexisNexis can do.

Aside from its catchy, rhyming name, LexisNexis will appeal to researchers looking for newspaper articles, legal information such as federal and state cases, and business information like company profiles, dossiers and more.

While this database is chock-full of useful information, it can feel a little confusing to navigate at first. Fear not!  Your librarians will shush your fears and show you some navigation basics, not to mention offer links out to additional help resources.

librarian shushing monster

Image by Michael Sauers. CC license here.

Navigating 101: Search by Content Type

Once you’ve deftly connected to LexisNexis via the ‘databases’ link on the library website, one of the most helpful things you can do is use the ‘search by content type’ feature.  As you may have guessed, this feature will allow you to limit your searches to specific content such as newspaper articles or legal statutes, helping you narrow in on relevant content more quickly.

lexissearch

Step one is simply to click on the text above the search box which reads ‘search by content type’.  This will reveal a drop-down menu from which you can make a selection:

lexisselect

 

And voila! Once you click on a link, your content type has been selected.  How do you know it worked?  On the main search page the text above the search box will change to match the content type you selected:

lexissearch2

Navigating 101: Advanced Search Options

Once you’ve selected a content type, you can proceed in a few ways.  In some cases, you may want to immediately input some keywords and look at the results.  In that case, it’s as easy as plugging your search terms into the search box.

On other occasions, particularly if you are looking for very specific legal information, you may still want to make further refinements. If ever you want to make more refinements, or just see what other refinements are available to you, select the ‘advanced options’ text just below the search box.

(**Note: Some of the advanced options available to you change depending on the type of content you selected.  You may see one set of options available for legal research, another set available for company profiles, etc.)

lexisadv2

 

Regardless of the content type you have chosen, you will always see the ‘Date’ and ‘Build your own segment search’ options available.  While ‘date’ is self-explanatory, the ‘build your own’ portion of the screen seems a bit more daunting.  This really moves beyond a ‘basics of navigating’ post, so I will offer a brief explanation below (skip it if it’s too much detail!).

(In the simplest terms, the ‘build your own’ option allows you to specify a portion of the document to search within.  For example, you may choose ‘Headline’ and then enter a keyword you want to find in the news articles’ headline. It also allows you to use Boolean operators to search for content in multiple sections of the document.  LexisNexis’ into video tutorial touches on this briefly, see here for more detail. )

In the example above, since I have chosen ‘federal statues and regulations’, the additional option I have is to choose the source I would like to search.  For now, I have selected only to search ‘Public Laws’.  Make sure to press the ‘Apply’ button so your changes take effect!

Navigating 101: Enter terms and press ‘search’/reading the results page

The final step is simply to enter in my search terms.  Now that I’ve narrowed in on the content type and source I’m interested in, I can focus on entering keywords related to my research topic, like so:

lexissearch3

For those new to LexisNexis, the results page can seem a little…strange. While the results are listed in the center, there is not a ton of information revealed about each result initially.  However, you have some refinement options and other features to help.

The filters along the left side of the page and the ‘search within’ feature along the top of the page will allow you to narrow in on relevant items.  Likewise, you can use the drop-down menu labeled ‘Show’ to alter how much detail you see in each result; even though it defaults to ‘list’, you may want to change it to ‘expanded list’ to see more:

lexisresults

Click image to enlarge.

From here, as you know so well, the work becomes looking through the results and determining which will be useful in your research.

WHEW! There is always a lot to cover when considering a new database.  Check out some of LexisNexis’ help materials below to learn more:

Though it goes without saying, you can always contact a librarian for assistance.  Happy searching!

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